A 16-year NASA mission that painted the universe in infrared light will come to an end this month, as the Spitzer Space Telescope takes its final observations on Jan. 29.
Spitzer launched in August 2003 as one of NASA's four Great Observatories, following in the footsteps of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. NASA will hold a news conference celebrating Spitzer's legacy on Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT). You can watch the event live here on Space.com or directly through NASA's YouTube page.
The telescope was tailored to study infrared light, which is often associated with heat. Spitzer was particularly good at peering through the dust that clouds the vision of many other instruments.
That talent has let scientists study the dusty reaches of the cosmos, where stars and planets are still forming. Spitzer has also offered insight into how stars die, how the universe formed and how supermassive black holes feed themselves.
Spitzer was designed to operate for 2.5 years. It ended up completing 5.5 years of observations while it could still cool itself; it spent another 10.5 years operating at warmer temperatures with a subset of its instruments.
NASA will turn off the Spitzer Space Telescope on Jan. 30.
- 50 Fabulous Deep-Space Nebula Photos
- Gallery: The Infrared Universe Seen by Spitzer Telescope
- Zoom Through the Famous Orion Nebula with NASA's Incredible 3D Video