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Thread: The end is near for Spitzer

  1. #1
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    The end is near for Spitzer

    from spaceflightnow.com

    After a search for an outside funding source turned up empty, NASA plans to end observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope in January to conclude a 16-year mission that discovered exoplanets, studied galaxies in the ancient universe, and peered at planets and asteroids in our own solar system.

    NASA quietly announced the plan to end Spitzer’s observations in a blog post earlier this month. Astronomers hoped to keep Spitzer going until after the launch of the long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope, but the new observatory is now scheduled for launch in early 2021, and continues to dominate the budget for NASA’s astrophysics division.

    “On January 30, 2020, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope will transmit the final science and engineering data to mission control and then be commanded off, ending its amazing and surprising mission,” wrote Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, Spitzer’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
    In 2017, NASA sought information from private entities, such as academic institutions, to take over Spitzer operations after NASA’s funding for the mission ran out. Two organizations submitted proposals to assume responsibility for Spitzer, but they were unable to secure the required funding, according to Felicia Chou, a NASA spokesperson.
    Designed for a five-year mission, Spitzer launched on Aug. 25, 2003, aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

    Spitzer launched with a supply of super-cold liquid helium to cool its most sensitive infrared detectors, which were designed to image some of the coldest reaches of the universe. Since 2009, Spitzer has only been able to use two of its shorter wavelength imaging bands after running out of cryogenic helium. Detectors in the near-infrared bands do not need to be chilled to do their work.
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