The Spitzer Space Telescope whizzes in front of a brilliant, infrared view of the Milky Way galaxy’s plane in this artistic depiction. Image credit: NASA/JPL
Initially scheduled for a minimum 2.5-year primary mission, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has gone far beyond its expected lifetime – and is still going strong after 15 years.
Launched into a solar orbit on 25 August 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.
“In its 15 years of operations, Spitzer has opened our eyes to new ways of viewing the universe,” says Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, United States. “Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe. And by working in collaboration with NASA’s other Great Observatories, Spitzer has helped scientists gain a ...