This Saturday, NASA will be launching the fourth and final telescope of the “Great Observatory Program” which began in the 70’s. After the Hubble Telescope (1990), the Compton Gamma Ray Telescope (1991), and the Chandra X-ray telescope (1999), the new Space Infrared Telescope Facility will add the fourth wavelength of light allowing astronomers to study small, cool objects in the universe that may be invisible to the other telescopes.
“Its job description is to look for celestial objects which emit light from the other end of the electromagnetic spectrum, the wavelengths just a bit longer than the red end of visible light but shorter than microwaves.”
“It will seek infrared energy, or heat, radiated by extremely cool objects in space. Many of its target objects will have temperatures near absolute zero (minus 273.16 degrees Celsius). It sees with infrared eyes the places and things we humans can only imagine.”