By Robert Hurt | March 30th, 2021
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually fly through a system of exoplanets orbiting a distant star, or float next to a space telescope as it studies the universe?
I have had the privilege of working on Spitzer since 1977 and have been Project Scientist since 1984, back in the day when we were known as SIRTF and intended to fly on the Space Shuttle.
Eight years ago today, I was nervous. Sitting atop a Delta II rocket at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Spitzer Space Telescope (which was then called the "Space Infrared Telescope Facility" - it was renamed "Spitzer" later that year) was waiting to launch. I've never witnessed a launch in-person, and I didn't travel to Florida to see Spitzer launch either. Instead, I was in an auditorium at Caltech in Pasadena, hosting a launch-viewing event for the general public, and watching the live-feed on NASA TV.
Looking like a pair of eyeglasses only a rock star would wear, this nebula brings into focus a murky region of star formation. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope exposes the depths of this dusty nebula with its infrared vision, showing stellar infants that are lost behind dark clouds when viewed in visible light.
You may notice that every now and then we post multiple views of the same region of the sky but using different color schemes. Why not just go with one view? Have you wondered what the different color schemes show us?
Today, we're releasing special images of the North America and Pelican Nebulae -- my data! I love these images, and not just because they're my data. This whole region is really, <em>really</em> cool, my team and I are finding all sorts of neat things here.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned here that the NITARP class of 2010 was taking NINE posters to the AAS meeting in a few weeks. So proud of them! Here are more words about each one, with a link to their formal abstract at the AAS website.
They say your first relationship will always stay with you, and I think it is as true of galaxies as it is of people. While I may have stopped to gawk at Andromeda or M81, my first true galactic relationship was with one known as Maffei 2.
Some of Spitzer's most dramatic images are of star formation. Indeed, these gorgeous images are mesmerizing, at least I think so! But they map out a story, making the images much more than just "pretty pictures."
Today the Milky Way Project website has gone live, giving everyone a chance to become galaxy explorers from the comfort of their own laptop.
We've added a new feature to the Spitzer image gallery: with just one click you can open up most of our astronomical images and see where they belong in the sky! This is possible because of our "smart" image technology on the Spitzer website and support in applications like Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope.
NITARP is the successor to the highly successful Spitzer Teacher Program and is an effective and inspiring way to get authentic research experiences into classrooms across the United States.
Experts in the field of astronomy visualization have come from around the world to brainstorm new features in the standard known as Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM). This is the same technology that underlies the Spitzer image gallery that enables us to embed all the descriptive information you see on the webpage into the images you can download from the site.
Wow, searching for a tiny planet around another star is pretty hard. I am amazed that people are actually able to do it! The way I understand it, hunting for exoplanets is the equivalent of looking for a firefly in front of a searchlight on the other side of the country.
NASA's premiere infrared telescope has just celebrated it's 7th birthday, and while that's getting up there in space telescope years, it's still going strong!
In a recent review of a space imagery exhibit, the reviewer goes on an odd tangent half-way down the page, seemingly taking exception to the way astronomical images are produced. Referring to the colors as "phony" and stating that "Many are colorized far more radically than any 1930s movie," it sounds like something dodgy may be going on... Trust me, it's not.
Today Microsoft, in collaboration with the Spitzer team, has released a new "NASA Spacescapes" Windows theme that features some of the most amazing astrophysics imagery NASA has to offer. The pictures feature results from seven different NASA missions and include many that combine data from multiple telescopes, spanning the light spectrum.
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.
So have you noticed something different about Spitzer today? If you frequent our website you might notice something, well, drastically different this week. After many months of work we have rolled out the new and improved Spitzer website, and we hope you enjoy exploring everything we have to offer!
Are you curious just how much science actually makes it into a science fiction epic? Will you be in Pasadena on Tuesday, April 27th? If so, you may want to drop by the Caltech campus to see director James Cameron explore this topic with several Caltech faculty members during the event "Is Pandora Possible? A Discussion of the Science, Technology, and Environmental Messages behind AVATAR."
Here in LA, the entertainment portion of the community (those in "the industry") have a crazy December, what with all the award nominations being released. As if the looming regular end-of-year holidays weren't crazy enough, people can go a little nutty about the awards. But within the astronomy community, December is nutty for a different reason.
I've just come back from a slew of travel, including the 3rd ever Women in Astronomy conference, which was at the end of October. I'd been to both of the previous conferences like this -- the first was in 1992, in Baltimore, and I was just between college and graduate school when I went. The second one was in 2003, and that one was at Caltech (and I went to that one too). This one was back in the DC area, and so I went back to the East Coast to attend.