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12 October 2004 The development and mission of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)
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The Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) was successfully launched on August 25, 2003. SIRTF is an observatory for infrared astronomy from space. It has an 85cm diameter beryllium telescope operating at 5.5 K and a projected cryogenic lifetime of 4 to 6 years based on early flight performance. SIRTF has completed its in-orbit checkout and has become the first mission to execute astronomical observations from a solar orbit. SIRTF's three instruments with state of the art detector arrays provide imaging, photometry, and spectroscopy over the 3-180 micron wavelength range. SIRTF is achieving major advances in the study of astrophysical phenomena from the solar system to the edge of the Universe. SIRTF completes NASA's family of Great Observatories and serves as a cornerstone of the Origins program. Over 75% of the observing time will be awarded to the general scientific community through the usual proposal and peer review cycle. SIRTF has demonstrated major advances in technology areas critical to future infrared missions. These include lightweight cryogenic optics, sensitive detector arrays, and a high performance thermal system, combining radiative and cryogenic cooling, which allows a telescope to be launched warm and to be cooled in space. These thermal advances are enabled by the use of an Earth-trailing solar orbit which will carry SIRTF to a distance of ~0.6 AU from Earth in 5 years. The SIRTF project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory which employs a novel JPL-industry team management approach. This paper provides an overview of the SIRTF mission, telescope, cryostat, instruments, spacecraft, orbit, operations and project management approach; and this paper serves as an introduction to the accompanying set of detailed papers about specific aspects of SIRTF.
© (2004) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
David B. Gallagher, William R. Irace, and Michael W. Werner "The development and mission of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)", Proc. SPIE 5487, Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Space Telescopes, (12 October 2004);


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