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Published July 12, 2008 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Spitzer's model for dealing with the end of the cryogenic mission


The Spitzer Space Telescope is a cryogenically cooled telescope operating three instruments in wavelengths ranging from 3.6 microns to 160 microns. Spitzer, the last of NASA's Great Observatories, was launched in August 2003 and has been operating for 4.5 years of an expected 5.5 year cryogen mission. The highly efficient Observatory has provided NASA and the science community with unprecedented data on galaxies, star formation, interstellar medium, exoplanets, and other fundamental astronomical topics. Spitzer's helium lifetime is predicted to end on April 18, 2009, with an uncertainty of +/- 3 months. Planning for this cryogen end involves many diverse areas of the project and is complicated due to the uncertainty in the actual date of helium depletion. This paper will describe how the Spitzer team is accommodating the unknown end date in the areas of observation selection, planning and scheduling, spacecraft and instrument monitoring, data processing and archiving, and finally, budgeting and staffing. This work was performed at the California Institute of Technology under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Additional Information

© 2008 International Society for Optical Engineering. The success of the Spitzer Mission is due to the efforts of the outstanding staff of the Spitzer Science Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Lockheed Martin Aerospace. In addition, the many engineers and scientists involved in the development of the instruments at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., the University of Arizona, Cornell University, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are to be commended for the exceptional durability and quality of their instruments. It is a privilege to work in such a talented and dedicated organization. This work was performed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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