December 19, 2003

More pretty pictures

NASA unveiled the first views from its space infrared telescope, a super-cooled orbiting observatory that can look through obscuring dust to capture images never before seen.

The newest member of NASA's family of orbiting telescopes, this telescope is named in honor of the famed astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. Spitzer, a Princeton University astronomer, proposed in 1946, long before the first orbital rocket, that the nation put telescopes into space, above the obscuring effects of the atmosphere.

Spitzer was a leader in efforts to persuade Congress to pay for a fleet of orbiting telescopes. He also played a major role in the 1990 launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. He died in 1997.

Spitzer is considered one of the most significant astronomers of the 20th century.

The telescope completes NASA's original plan to orbit telescopes to study segments of the electromagnetic spectrum, the visible and invisible radiation that fills the universe, which is partially or completely blocked by the Earth's atmosphere.

The Hubble, launched in 1990, gathers images in visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared waves. The Compton, launched in 1991, studied gamma rays, a high energy form of radiation. Its mission ended in 1999. The Chandra Observatory, launched in 1999, studies X-ray radiation from supernovas and black holes.

Posted by Ted at December 19, 2003 08:11 AM
Category: Space Program
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