The Spitzer Telescope celebrated a momentous occasion a few days ago. On August 25 at 5:35 AM of this year, the infrared telescope celebrated its tenth birthday in space. For a whole decade Spitzer has been orbiting our planet keeping a watchful eye out in the furthest parts of the galaxy and bringing us back phenomenal images and information that have helped us understand the universe just a little bit better. With its infrared vision, Spitzer can see things other telescopes can’t in the far, cold, and dusty side of the universe.
The Spitzer telescope was originally called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility. After it launched in 2003 it was renamed to Spitzer in honor of astronomer Lyman Spitzer who was considered to be the “father of space telescopes”. Many astronomers might remember Spitzer surprising the world by discovering the largest of Saturn’s rings. This giant ring is made up of a wispy band of ice and dust particles that Spitzer was only able to pick up due to the glow of heat that it gives off. Another discovery that Spitzer made that some say was its most astonishing find came from outside of our solar system. It was able to detect light coming from a planet, the first telescope to do this. Many astronomers were thrilled with this discovery because it was originally not in Spitzer’s design to do this.
The Spitzer Telescope has counted stars, investigated planets and galaxies, studied asteroids and comets, and discovered volleyball shaped spheres of carbon in space (known as buckyballs). Even the United States hopes to utilize Spitzer to achieve his goal of visiting an asteroid by the year of 2025. I think it is safe to say that over the past decade we have made drastic steps in exploring the furthest parts of the universe, and a big reason for that is the Spitzer Telescope. It makes me excited and anxious about the discoveries the next ten years will bring.
All images courtesy Wiki Commons