I Spy a Little Asteroid With My Infrared Eye
This image of asteroid 2011 MD was taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in Feb. 2014, over a period of 20 hours. The long observation, taken in infrared light, was needed to pick up the faint signature of the small asteroid (center of frame). The Spitzer observations helped narrow down the size of the space rock to roughly 20 feet (6 meters), making it one of a few candidates for NASA's proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission for which sizes are approximately known.
This image was taken by Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera at a wavelength of 4.5 microns.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.