NASA's Spitzer Begins Warm Mission

PASADENA, Calif. -- 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.

Spitzer entered an inactive state called standby mode at 3:11 p.m. Pacific Time (6:11 p.m. Eastern Time or 22:11 Universal Time), May 15, as result of running out of its liquid helium coolant. Scientists and engineers will spend the next few weeks recalibrating the instrument at the warmer temperature, and preparing it to begin science operations.

Additional information, including the following items, is at:

  • A full news release about Spitzer's warm mission and past accomplishments
  • A mock interview titled "If Spitzer Could Talk: An Interview with NASA's Coolest Space Mission"
  • A video about the Spitzer mission
  • An article about the late astronomer Lyman Spitzer, the mission's namesake

Who's Who of the Spitzer mission:

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colo., support mission and science operations. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., built Spitzer's infrared array camera; the instrument's principal investigator was Giovanni Fazio of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. built Spitzer's infrared spectrograph; its principal investigator was Jim Houck of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the University of Arizona in Tucson, built the multiband imaging photometer for Spitzer; its principal investigator was George Rieke of the University of Arizona.

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.