The mission of Spitzer Space Telescope of the POT has come to an end, after 16 years of studying the universe in infrared light.
Mission engineers confirmed at around 10.30 p.m. UTC on January 30 that the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all scientific operations. After the dismantling was confirmed, the Spitzer project manager, Joseph HuntHe declared that the mission was officially over.
Launched in 2003, Spitzer was one of the four great observatories of NASA, together with the Hubble Space Telescope, the ray observatory X Chandra and the gamma ray observatory Compton. The Great Observatories program demonstrated the power of using different wavelengths of light to create a more complete picture of the universe.
“Spitzer has taught us completely new aspects of the cosmos and it has given us many more steps to understand how the universe works, address questions about our origins and whether we are alone or not, “he said in a statement Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Scientific Mission. Address in Washington.
Among his many scientific contributions, Spitzer studied comets and asteroids in our own solar system and he found a previously unidentified ring around Saturn. He studied the formation of stars and planets, the evolution of galaxies from the ancient universe to the present, and the composition of interstellar dust.
It also proved to be a powerful tool to detect exoplanets and characterize their atmospheres. Spitzer’s best known work may be to detect the seven planets the size of the Earth in the TRAPPIST-1 system, the largest number of terrestrial planets found by orbiting a single star, and determine their masses and densities.
In 2016, after a review of the astrophysics missions in operation, NASA made the decision to close the Spitzer mission in 2018 in anticipation of the launch of the James Webb space telescope, which will also observe the universe in infrared light. When Webb’s launch was postponed, Spitzer was granted an extension to continue operations until this year. This gave Spitzer additional time to continue producing transformative science, including ideas that will pave the way for Webb, which will launch in 2021.