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Published October 12, 2004 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

On-orbit performance of the Spitzer Space Telescope


The Spitzer Space Telescope (formally known as SIRTF) was successfully launched on August 25, 2003, and has completed its initial in-orbit checkout and science validation and calibration period. The measured performance of the observatory has met or exceeded all of its high-level requirements, it entered normal operations in January 2004, and is returning high-quality science data. A superfluid-helium cooled 85 cm diameter telescope provides extremely low infrared backgrounds and feeds three science instruments covering wavelengths ranging from 3.6 to 160 microns. The telescope optical quality is excellent, providing diffraction-limited performance down to wavelengths below 6.5 microns. Based on the first helium mass and boil-off rate measurements, a cryogenic lifetime in excess of 5 years is expected. This presentation will provide a summary of the overall performance of the observatory, with an emphasis on those performance parameters that have the greatest impact on its ultimate science return.

Additional Information

© 2004 Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers. The Spitzer Space Telescope is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA under NASA contract 1407. T. Roellig would like to acknowledge the support of the NASA Office of Space Sciences.

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