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Technology

The Spitzer Space Telescope is a technological marvel, featuring many innovations never before used on a space mission. It stands about 4 meters (13 feet) tall, and weighs approximately 865 kilograms (1,906 pounds).

Since Spitzer is designed to detect infrared radiation, or heat - its detectors and telescope must be cooled to only about 5 degrees above absolute zero (-450 degrees Fahrenheit, or -268 degrees Celsius). This will ensure that the observatory's "body heat" does not interfere with its observations of relatively cold cosmic objects.

While parts of Spitzer must be kept cold to function properly, other electronics onboard the spacecraft need to operate near room temperature. To achieve this balance of warm and cold, the telescope is compartmentalized into two components: 

The Cryogenic Telescope Assembly - houses Spitzer's cold components, including the 0.85-meter telescope and three scientific instruments.

The Spacecraft - contains the relatively warm components, including solar panels, telescope controls and tools to communicate scientific information with Earth.

Innovations - other creative ways scientists and engineers achieved this temperature balance.