The telescope system for NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility arrived February 20 at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., where it will be integrated with the spacecraft. The system, called the cryogenic telescope assembly, contains the telescope, liquid helium cooling tank and three science instruments. It was shipped on February 19 from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo., where it was built.
The Space Infrared Telescope Facility, scheduled to launch on January 9, 2003, will study the early universe and hunt for planet-forming regions in dust disks around nearby stars. It will also detect objects by looking for the heat they emit in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Space Infrared Telescope Facility is the fourth and final mission under NASA's Great Observatories Program, which includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Chandra Advanced X-ray Observatory. The observatory is also the first new mission of NASA's Origins Program, which will study the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life, and seek to answer the questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone?
JPL manages the Space Infrared Telescope Facility for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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