The Spitzer Space Telescope
was the final mission of NASA's Great Observatories
Program. Launched in August 2003, Spitzer completed its prime mission when its coolant was exhausted in 2009. It continues an extended "warm mission"
using the one other instrument that still functions without coolant.
The original working name of the telescope during its planning and at launch was SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, thus the name of this site.
The Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) science team contributed the most widely used scientific instrument onboard Spitzer. The IRS consists of four separate modules which take fingerprints of the infrared radiation emitted by distant objects. Each pair provides complementary coverage of adjacent parts of the infrared spectrum. One pair works in low-resolution, dividing the spectrum into fewer parts but able to look at fainter objects -- the other pair works at high resolution without the ability to see quite as faint. Different types of scientific investigations require some combination of the modules, as selected by the astronomer who prepared and defended the proposed work.
The Spitzer mission and its infrared spectrograph was envisioned by many who worked decades to bring them into being. Jim Houck (1940-2015)
spent the majority of his entire professional career, from the mid 1970s onwards, to building support for funding the telescope, serving on its senior management team, and directing the IRS team to make this great adventure a reality.
The Spitzer mission was a collaborative effort involving many people at NASA
, Ball Aerospace
, Lockheed Martin
, the University of Arizona
, the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
, Cornell University
, and the University of Rochester
The Infrared Spectrograph was built by Ball Aerospace based on designs and prototypes constructed by the IRS Science Team.
The legacy of the IRS team is to be found in its people
, now working throughout the world, and in the CASSIS archive
of scientific observations prepared by its science team, which continues to grow as other infrared mission results are included.