It was special day yesterday at Cape Canaveral, Florida when NASA celebrated the 10th birthday of their Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer was the last of four telescopes launched in NASA's Great Observatories program that has been launched a series of telescopes to explore our Universe. The Spitzer is quite as famous as its oldest brother the Hubble, that was launch 13 years earlier.
Just like its three older brothers, Spitzer has sent back to Earth some spectacular pictures showing Galaxies, Nebulas and other cellestial phenomena in all their vibrant colors. Among some of the more spectacular of the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) are a stellar nursery that it photographed not long after it was first deployed, a new ring around the Planet Saturn in October of 2009 and Planets outside of our own solar system.
“I always knew Spitzer would work, but I had no idea that it would be as productive, exciting and long-lived as it has been,” Spitzer project scientist Michael Werner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who helped conceive the mission, said in a statement. “The spectacular images that it continues to return, and its cutting-edge science, go far beyond anything we could have imagined when we started on this journey more than 30 years ago.”
The one thing that made the Spitzer Space telescope stand other from its older siblings is that, because of the Liquid hydrogen that powered the upper stage, it wasn't allowed to ride on the Space Shuttle. In 1986 after the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after takeoff it was deemed that such a stage would be too volitile to carry on the shuttles so they banned them. This meant that they they had to use the much smaller and expendable Delta II unmanned launch vehicle.
Originally, the SST was only suppose to last for 2 and a half years. That was later bumped up to 7 years when the liquid hellium was suppose to run out and the telescope would overheat to the point that it would no longer be usable. Now, here we are 10 years after the launch and the SST is still going and sending back stunning photos of our Universe.