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NASA Spitzer Space Telescope • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• California Institute of Technology
• Vision for Space Exploration
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Frame Frame About the Spitzer Space Telescope Frame Frame
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Fast Facts
 
Current Status
 
Spitzer History
 
Spitzer Technology
 
— Overview
 
— Cryo-Telescope Assembly
 
—— Telescope
 
—— MIC
 
——— IRAC
 
——— IRS
 
——— MIPS
 
—— Cryostat
 
—— Outer Shell
 
— Spacecraft
 
—— Solar Panels
 
—— Spacecraft Bus
 
— Developments
 
Spitzer Science
 
Lyman Spitzer, Jr.
 
 

Spitzer's Telescope

Telescope Diagram
The telescope

The Spitzer telescope is a lightweight reflector of Ritchey-Chrétien design. It weighs less than 50 kg and is designed to operate at an extremely low temperature. The telescope has an 85 cm diameter aperture. All of its parts, except for the mirror supports, are made of light-weight beryllium. Beryllium is a very strong material which works well in the construction of infrared space telescopes because it has a low heat capacity at very low temperatures. The telescope is attached to the top of the vapor-cooled cryostat vacuum shell, which keeps the science instruments very cold.

The design philosophy of the telescope assembly is based on the following guidelines:

  • Maximize the use of materials with a very high stiffness/density ratio, high thermal conductivity, and low cryogenic specific heat.
  • Build the entire telescope of the same material to prevent thermal expansion mismatch complications, and to make the telescope assembly as dimensionally stable as possible.
  • Select a configuration that minimizes the size of the major elements of the telescope assembly.
  • Strive for the simplest possible design to minimize the number of parts, thereby reducing the time and cost for design, fabrication, and integration.

Techs with Mirror Mirror
Two views of the assembled telescope
Ball Aerospace



The Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This website is maintained by the Spitzer Science Center, located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

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