Releases from NASA, NASA's Galex, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, HubbleSite, Spitzer, Cassini, ESO, ESA, Chandra, HiRISE, Royal Astronomical Society, NRAO, Astronomy Picture of the Day, Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Gemini Observatory, Subaru Telescope, W. M. Keck Observatory, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, JPL-Caltech, etc
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is celebrating 12
years in space with a new digital calendar. The calendar's 12 images
are shown here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.› Larger image
Scores of baby stars shrouded by dust are revealed in this infrared image of the star-forming region NGC 2174, as seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.› Full image and caption
Celebrate the 12th anniversary of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope
with a new digital calendar showcasing some of the mission's most
notable discoveries and popular cosmic eye candy.
The calendar follows the life of the mission, with each month
highlighting top infrared images and discoveries from successive years
-- everything from a dying star resembling the eye of a monster to a
star-studded, swirling galaxy. The final month includes a brand new
image of the glittery star-making factory known as the Monkey Head
"You can't fully represent Spitzer's scientific bounty in only 12
images," said Michael Werner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, California, the mission's project scientist and a Spitzer
team member since 1977. "But these gems demonstrate Spitzer's unique
perspectives on both the nearest, and the most distant, objects in the
Spitzer, which launched into space on August 25, 2003, from Cape
Canaveral, Florida, is still going strong. It continues to use its
ultra-sensitive infrared vision to probe asteroids, comets, exoplanets
(planets outside our solar system) and some of the farthest known
galaxies. Recently, Spitzer helped discover the closest known rocky exoplanet to us, named HD219134b, at 21 light-years away.
In fact, Spitzer's exoplanet studies continue to surprise the
astronomy community. The telescope wasn't originally designed to study
exoplanets, but as luck -- and some creative engineering -- would have
it, Spitzer has turned out to be a critical tool in the field, probing
the climates and compositions of these exotic worlds. This pioneering
work began in 2005, when Spitzer became the first telescope to detect light from an exoplanet.
Other top discoveries from the mission so far include:
-- Recipe for "comet soup."
Spitzer observed the aftermath of the collision between NASA's Deep
Impact spacecraft and comet Tempel 1, finding that cometary material in
our own solar system resembles that around nearby stars.
-- First exoplanet weather map of temperature variations over the surface of a gas exoplanet. Results suggested the presence of fierce winds.
-- Asteroid and planetary smashups. Spitzer has found evidence for
several rocky collisions in other solar systems, including one thought
to involve two large asteroids.
-- The hidden lairs of newborn stars.
Spitzer's infrared images have provided unprecedented views into the
hidden cradles where young stars grow up, revolutionizing our
understanding of stellar birth.
-- Buckyballs in space. Buckyballs are soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules that have important technological applications on Earth.
-- One of the most remote planets known,
lying about 13,000 light-years away, deep within our galaxy. Spitzer
continues to help in the search for exoplanets using a state-of-the-art
method called microlensing.
-- "Big baby" galaxies. Spitzer and Hubble has found remote galaxies that were much more massive and mature than expected.
JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the
Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared
Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center
at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.