NASA Bids Adieu To Spitzer Telescope That Led To Many Astronomical Discoveries


After nearly 16 years, NASA is shutting down one of the long-lasting space observatories. The Spitzer telescope equipped with infrared has been wandering through space capturing images of some of the coldest and ancient objects in the universe, including images of seven Earth-sized planets around the star Trappist-1.


Achievements Of NASA Spitzer Telescope

Achievements Of NASA Spitzer Telescope

The telescope was launched in 2003 and was originally scheduled to wander space for roughly two-and-a-half to five years. But NASA engineers used a couple of engineering tricks and added another decade to the telescope's life and operations. The telescope is one of the most powerful equipment sent to space, exploring objects beyond the range of the human eye.

Spitzer Telescope

Spitzer turned out to be a remarkably handy tool for understanding the cosmos, discover newly forming stars, the rings of Saturn, and also another solar system about 40 light-years away. Just like the Hubble, Compton, Chandra, and other telescopes, Spitzer has examined electromagnetic radiation of various wavelengths.

It focuses on infrared light to reveal the varied features of the universe from the normal ‘visible' light, this includes objects that are extremely cold to emit any visible heat or light, like exoplanets, brown dwarfs, and so on. These objects do not have enough mass to shine or discharge light and are hard to detect.

Why Is NASA Shutting It Down?

Despite its technological prowess, NASA is pulling the plug. "I can assert with confidence that no one expected that the Observatory would still be operating and doing exciting science in 2019, the tenth year of the extended mission," said the project manager for Spitzer, Lisa Storrie-Lombardi to The Verge.

The reason is that the space agency is running out of money to fund the spacecraft telescope. The cost to operate it cost roughly $12 million in 2018. Back in 2017, NASA began a hunt with private organizations to take over the Spitzer. Although there were institutions, the proposals couldn't provide enough resources to operate it.

NASA Spitzer Telescope: What Next?

NASA Spitzer Telescope: What Next?

NASA has now decided to put the Spitzer telescope into hibernation. It will no longer collect data or capture images and send them back to the Earth. Even if it goes offline, the telescope could still aid researchers to make more discoveries in the future. NASA says the archive of Spitzer observations will be available to anyone who wishes to use it.

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