By Robert Hurt | June 29th, 2010
Walking through the halls today at the Spitzer Science Center you can't help but notice something special about the mission clocks. Today marks the 2,500th day of Spitzer's mission. Wow.
I can't help but think back to my fortunate chance to brave the Florida humidity back on 23 August, 2003 and watch the Delta rocket blast NASA's latest Great Observatory up, up, and away into it's new mission. It was especially fun capturing the whole event on infrared video. The glowing hot trail of exhaust fumes was like a teaser of the fantastic discoveries to come, revealed in the faint thermal glow of dust in the cosmos.
Anniversaries may come and go, and sometimes we mark them in amusing ways (like 2,500 days), but they do give us an excuse to look back and appreciate all the hard work that has brought us to this point. While Spitzer has exhausted its cryogen supply it's still an astronomical workhorse with the community proposing far more projects that we have time to accommodate. But that just helps guarantee more exciting science results in the coming year.
It's all the more remarkable when you consider that, in it's Earth-trailing orbit, Spitzer is about 3/4 as far away from us as we are from the Sun. Yeah, at that distance Spitzer has to keep working perfectly all by itself. There will be no astronaut servicing missions to keep it running, just excellent design and engineering before launch.
So take a moment to wish Spitzer a happy 2,500 today, and if you're up for it, browse our brand new website to see what kind of news and images it's been returning.
And trust me, Spitzer, you don't look a day over 1,500!