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NASA's Spitzer Sees the Cosmos Through 'Warm' Infrared Eyes
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is starting a second career and taking its first shots of the cosmos since warming up.
The infrared telescope ran out of coolant May 15, 2009, more than five-and-a-half-years after launch. It has since warmed to a still-frosty 30 degrees Kelvin (about minus 406 degrees Fahrenheit).
New images taken with two of Spitzer's infrared detector channels - two that work at the new, warmer temperature - demonstrate the observatory remains a powerful tool for probing the dusty universe. The images show a bustling star-forming region, the remains of a star similar to the sun, and a swirling galaxy lined with stars.

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Characterisation activities for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope continue, a process that began after its cryogen ran out on May 15. The mission will soon begin a new "warm" era of science, with two infrared channels capable of continued studies of the cosmos.

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-- Edited by Blobrana on Sunday 31st of May 2009 02:35:46 PM

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After more than five-and-a-half years of probing the cool cosmos, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has run out of the coolant that kept its infrared instruments chilled. The telescope will warm up slightly, yet two of its infrared detector arrays will still operate successfully. The new, warm mission will continue to unveil the far, cold and dusty universe.

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The primary mission of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is about to end after more than five and a half years of probing the cosmos with its keen infrared eye. Within about a week of May 12, the telescope is expected to run out of the liquid helium needed to chill some of its instruments to operating temperatures.

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NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is about to use its last drop of the coolant that has chilled it for the past five-and-a-half years. On about May 12, give or take a week or so, the observatory is predicted to run out of the liquid helium that has run through its veins, keeping its infrared detectors at frosty operating temperatures of just a few degrees above the coldest temperature possible, called absolute zero.
The spacecraft, which is now in orbit around the sun more than 100-million kilometres behind Earth, will heat up just a bit -- its instruments will warm up from - 456 degrees Fahrenheit (-271 Celsius) to - 404 degrees Fahrenheit (-242 Celsius). This is still way colder than an ice cube, which is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. More importantly, it is still cold enough for some of Spitzer's infrared detectors to keep on probing the cosmos for at least two more years.

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NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has resumed normal operations after entering standby mode on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, at 8:41a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Standby mode is a state in which the spacecraft awaits further instructions from ground controllers, due to a spacecraft fault.

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Infrared telescope near its end
Spitzer will soon lose coolant and warm up too much to use.
Since rocketing into space five and a half years ago, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has snapped tens of millions of images (see slideshow of Spitzer's greatest hits). But the data flood will slow to a trickle in 2009 as the infrared telescope moves into old age.
In April, give or take a month, the telescope's liquid helium coolant will run out, making its instruments too warm to take useful images.

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A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope tells a tale of life and death, and reveals a rich family history. The striking infrared picture shows a colourful cosmic cloud, called W5, studded with multiple generations of blazing stars.
It also provides dramatic new evidence that massive stars - through their brute winds and radiation - can trigger the birth of stellar newborns.

"Triggered star formation continues to be very hard to prove. But our preliminary analysis shows that the phenomenon can explain the multiple generations of stars seen in the W5 region" - Xavier Koenig of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

Koenig is lead author of a paper about the findings in the December 1, 2008, issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

The image is being unveiled today at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles as part of Spitzer's five-year anniversary celebration. Spitzer launched on August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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Alekzandir Morton and Thomas Travagli are two of the most starry-eyed teens around, but while their heads are light years above the clouds, their feet are squarely on the ground.
The Deer Valley High School seniors are characteristically modest about their latest achievement, which is all the more noteworthy because they're believed to be the first high school students to propose the use of a particular space telescope in a research project that astronomers have judged worthy of undertaking.

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Title: Spitzer's View of Planetary Nebulae
Authors: Joseph L. Hora

The Spitzer Space Telescope, NASA's Great Observatory for infrared astronomy, has made available new tools for the investigation of the infrared properties of planetary nebulae. The three instruments onboard, including the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS), and the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS), provide imaging capability from 3.6 to 160 microns, and low and moderate resolution spectroscopy from 5.2 to 38 microns. In this paper I review recent Spitzer results concerning planetary nebulae and their asymmetrical structures.

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