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Spitzer Space Telescope
Spitzer space telescope.jpg
An artist rendering of the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Names Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Mission type Infrared space telescope
Operator NASA / JPL / Caltech
Mission duration Planned: 2.5 to 5+ years
Primary mission: 5 years, 8 months, 19 days
Elapsed: 18 years, 9 months, 4 days
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer Lockheed
Ball Aerospace
Launch mass 950 kg (2,094 lb)
Dry mass 884 kg (1,949 lb)
Payload mass 851.5 kg (1,877 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 25 August 2003, 05:35:39 (2003-08-25UTC05:35:39) UTC
Rocket Delta II 7920H
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-17B
Entered service 18 December 2003
End of mission
Disposal Deactivated in Earth-trailing orbit
Deactivated 30 January 2020
Orbital parameters
Reference system Heliocentric
Regime Earth-trailing
Eccentricity 0.011
Perihelion 1.003 AU
Aphelion 1.026 AU
Inclination 1.13°
Period 373.2 days
Epoch 16 March 2017 00:00:00
Main telescope
Type Ritchey–Chrétien
Diameter 0.85 m (2.8 ft)
Focal length 10.2 m (33 ft)
Wavelengths infrared, 3.6–160 μm
← Chandra

The Spitzer Space Telescope is a telescope launched into space by NASA in 2003. It is the fourth telescope in the Great Observatories program (the Hubble Space Telescope was the first). The Hubble Space Telescope takes pictures of visible light, and the Spitzer Space Telescope takes pictures of infrared light. Unlike Hubble, Spitzer orbits the Sun instead of the Earth.

The Spitzer Space Telescope is named after the scientist Lyman Spitzer. It was planned to last for 2.5 years, but it actually lasted until 2009. Some parts of the telescope are still working even today.


The Spitzer Space Telescope was able to see very good detail. Spitzer was the first telescope that could see light from extrasolar planets (planets outside the Solar System.) It was also able to see some of the first stars in the universe, believed to be only 100 million years after the Big Bang.

Andromeda galaxy Ssc2005-20a1
A picture of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) taken by Spitzer in 2004.

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