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Published 2012 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Spitzer Space Telescope: Unprecedented Efficiency and Excellent Science on a Limited Budget


The Spitzer Space Telescope completed nearly six years of cryogenic operations in 2009 and in August 2011 began the third year of 'warm' science observations. Over 50,000 hours of science have been executed in the first 8 years of the mission. Nearly 40% of the cryogenic mission project budget was devoted to data analysis funding provided directly to the astronomical community. For the warm mission, the observatory was effectively reinvented as a new, scientifically productive mission operating at a substantially lower cost. In this paper we discuss how the design of the science operations, observing modes and observing program for the cryogenic mission led to very high observing efficiencies and maximized the observatory time devoted to science. The philosophy of maximizing science output per dollar has continued in the warm mission. The transition to warm operations has maintained an outstanding science program while reducing the project budget by nearly 70% from the cryogenic mission level.

Additional Information

© 2012 Astronomical Society of the Pacific. This paper acknowledges the efforts of the countless individuals who have contributed to the success of the Spitzer mission. The author particularly thanks Deborah Levine for a careful reading of the manuscript and many helpful suggestions. This work was carried out at the California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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