NASA Telescopes Reveal an Invisible Infrared Universe
For 40 years, NASA has expanded our view of the universe with space telescopes that detect infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. Observing the infrared realm helps us study the origins of planets, stars, galaxies, and even the universe itself.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the agency’s latest infrared space telescope, adding new insights to targets first discovered and studied by infrared missions that came before it.
Infrared space telescope missions have built upon one another to reveal stars, galaxies, and all manner of cosmic objects with ever-increasing clarity. Here you will see images from the pioneering Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), launched in 1983, the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which launched in 2021 and is sending back extremely detailed images today.
For more information about Webb, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/webb
For more information about Spitzer, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/spitzer
For more information about IRAS, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/infrared-astronomical-satellite-iras
Credits: IRAS images: NASA/Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes/UK Science and Engineering Research Council/JPL-Caltech; Spitzer images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC; Webb images: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI
Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope amazes us with its new views of the universe, but its images build upon 40 years of innovation in infrared space telescopes.
The universe is full of infrared light at wavelengths much longer than what human eyes can see.
We need space telescopes equipped with special detectors to reveal these hidden wonders.
The first was the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, or IRAS, launched in 1983.
IRAS measured the infrared glow of hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies.
In 2003, the Spitzer Space Telescope began a new era of infrared astronomy.
Spitzer revealed details of galaxies and nebulas never seen before.
Now Webb takes us even deeper into the infrared universe.
We look forward to the wonders yet to be revealed by Webb – and future infrared telescopes.