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The Spitzer Space Telescope will shut down Jan. 30. NASA celebrates its legacy this week.

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.

Related: Happy Birthday, Spitzer! NASA Telescope Marks 15 Years in Space

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.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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  • Lozzatron
    Your spell check is shuts down...
    Reply
  • rod
    Spitzer documented much on galaxies and star formation rates too. "The Distant Universe Spitzer observed beyond the stars and exoplanets of our own galaxy, reaching out to the billions upon billions of galaxies in the universe. Understanding how galaxies form and evolve has been a driving question in astrophysics for many decades. Infrared observations have been applied to this question in two separate domains: low and high redshifts. These domains split at a redshift of 3, corresponding to a lookback time of approximately 11.5 billion years. With its enormous gain over prior missions in imaging sensitivity, predominantly at 24 microns, and its substantial spectroscopic capability, Spitzer has probed infrared-bright galaxies throughout the universe's last 11.5 billion years...Combined with multiwavelength data from other instruments, these results show that star formation across the universe peaked between 2.3 and 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang and has been decreasing ever since. Astronomers refer to this period of rampant starbirth as cosmic high noon.", ref - Spitzer's Legacy, Sky & Telescope 139(1):18-25, 2020

    What Spitzer data shows about star formation, slowing down, the H-R star diagram supports like globular clusters, white dwarfs cooling, no new galaxy formation. The 2nd Law/entropy is the direction of time's arrow so the universe did not create itself but had a distinct beginning. New star formation rates is decreasing and winding down in the Big Bang model.
    Reply
  • jo56
    rod said:
    Spitzer documented much on galaxies and star formation rates too. "The Distant Universe Spitzer observed beyond the stars and exoplanets of our own galaxy, reaching out to the billions upon billions of galaxies in the universe. Understanding how galaxies form and evolve has been a driving question in astrophysics for many decades. Infrared observations have been applied to this question in two separate domains: low and high redshifts. These domains split at a redshift of 3, corresponding to a lookback time of approximately 11.5 billion years. With its enormous gain over prior missions in imaging sensitivity, predominantly at 24 microns, and its substantial spectroscopic capability, Spitzer has probed infrared-bright galaxies throughout the universe's last 11.5 billion years...Combined with multiwavelength data from other instruments, these results show that star formation across the universe peaked between 2.3 and 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang and has been decreasing ever since. Astronomers refer to this period of rampant starbirth as cosmic high noon.", ref - Spitzer's Legacy, Sky & Telescope 139(1):18-25, 2020

    What Spitzer data shows about star formation, slowing down, the H-R star diagram supports like globular clusters, white dwarfs cooling, no new galaxy formation. The 2nd Law/entropy is the direction of time's arrow so the universe did not create itself but had a distinct beginning. New star formation rates is decreasing and winding down in the Big Bang model.
    why turn it off
    Reply
  • Monkyboy1028
    Will they be de-orbiting the telescope ?
    Reply