Goodnight Spitzer Space Telescope
January 27, 2020 10:19 PM   Subscribe

 
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posted by Dokterrock at 10:20 PM on January 27


New images of the Tarantula Nebula made from Spitzer observations were just released, the nebula was one of the telescope's first targets in 2003.
posted by peeedro at 10:20 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


During its cryogenic mission (before the active cooling system shut down in 2009), Spitzer's instruments were able to work in the 3–160 μm range of wavelengths. Since then, in the 'warm' mission, it's been restricted to instruments that observe in 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm wavelengths.

As noted in the links, the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to be launched next year will cover that part of the spectrum, up to about 28 μm. It will also be able to image in near-infrared wavelengths that Spitzer never could see, down to 0.6 μm. But JWST won't be a perfect replacement for Spitzer. In the far infrared, for the foreseeable future, we won't have anything as sensitive as Spitzer was in its prime.
posted by theory at 11:51 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


OK, it's not working properly and it's drifting away, but why are they actively switching it off instead of letting it mumble into oblivion like the rest of us? Does switching it off leave it in better condition for future space archaeologists?
posted by pracowity at 2:20 AM on January 28 [10 favorites]


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posted by Jade Dragon at 2:27 AM on January 28


space archaeologists
This job. How do I get it?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 4:28 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


OK, it's not working properly and it's drifting away, but why are they actively switching it off instead of letting it mumble into oblivion like the rest of us? Does switching it off leave it in better condition for future space archaeologists?

This is standard practice because firstly there's a limited number of X-band channels. They need to be reused. Secondly, it stops possible bleeding over into other X band signals which could be much weaker. Keep in mind that Voyager 1's signal is being received right now on 8.2GHz by the DSN at -155.47 dBm. High and low band RF filters aren't perfect plus you have the Doppler effect changing the center frequency. If you have Spitzer mumbling away at -120dBm on 8.13GHz, it's possible to interfere with Voyager 1's signal.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:10 AM on January 28 [15 favorites]


Oh, I see the way things are. You work and you work, maybe lose a little control, have a little "warm mission" right in the middle of things, but it's not the end of the world, and suddenly it's "Hey, we're talking here. Someone hold a pillow over Grandma Spitzer's face. And don't forget to cancel her phone."
posted by pracowity at 6:14 AM on January 28 [9 favorites]


Someone hold a pillow over Grandma Spitzer's face.

something something space crouton petting something
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:16 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


This takes me back. I actually did some work for this as an intern back in the mid 80's (yes the development cycle can be very long for these projects). Back then it was known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SiRTF). I was tasked with creating some maps that would show what parts of the sky the telescope could scan without getting direct sunlight or "earthshine" directly on the instruments; based on it's location in the orbit and the geometry of the sunshade.

After making a couple of these by hand, I ended up writing some code on a VAX/VMS system that would generate a plot given the date. I printed out a couple years worth for the astronomer that'd asked for this. When I came back full time, I found that somebody else had picked up my code and added more functionality, but it still had my name attached to it. That's when I learned it always pays to document your code.
posted by mach at 8:24 AM on January 28 [17 favorites]


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posted by doctornemo at 10:24 AM on January 28


I love these little fellas, toddling away in space for our edification and betterment. The pictures are indescribably beautiful, truly. They take my breath away.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 5:55 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


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posted by RedOrGreen at 11:06 AM on January 30


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