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First Photos from New Spitzer Space Telescope

Posted by: Matthew17 - Mon Dec 22, 2003 8:18 am
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First Photos from New Spitzer Space Telescope 
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Post First Photos from New Spitzer Space Telescope   Posted on: Mon Dec 22, 2003 8:18 am
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/s ... 31218.html
First Photos from New Spitzer Space Telescope


NASA announced the formal name of its newest space telescope today and released the first science pictures. The images support a promise that the orbiting observatory, now called the Spitzer Space Telescope, will provide top-notch science and entertainment on par the Hubble Space Telescope.

"Every time we take a picture, we see something spectacular," said Giovanni Fazio of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO).



Initially called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), the observatory is now named after the late Lyman Spitzer, Jr., who in the 1940s first proposed putting telescopes in space to overcome the limiting effects of Earth's atmosphere.

The name was chosen from 7,000 public suggestions.

Spitzer, as the telescope is sure to be informally known, launched Aug. 25 and spent its first weeks in space undergoing instrument checkout. It is working "extremely well," project scientist Michael Werner, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at a press conference.

The new photographs illustrate Spitzer's range of targets and capabilities. They provide fresh details of a nearby galaxy, a peek at star formation inside a corner of our own galaxy, an updated view of a planet-forming disk around a nearby star, and new details of a comet and a pair of asteroids. The telescope also discovered water for first time in a galaxy so far away that it is observed at a time when life was just developing on Earth, Spitzer scientists said.

The initial observations are modest compared to what is expected.

"Like Hubble, Compton and Chandra, the new Spitzer Space Telescope will soon be making major discoveries, and, as these first images show, should excite the public with views of the cosmos like we've never had before," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science.

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