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Proceedings Paper

The Spitzer Space Telescope's performance: getting the most out of a great observatory
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Paper Abstract

The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched on August 25th, 2003, and has been operating virtually flawlessly for over two years. The projected cryogenic lifetime for Spitzer is currently 5.5 years, substantially exceeding the required lifetime of 2.5 years and the pre-launch prediction of 5 years. The Spitzer Project has made a singular effort to extend Spitzer's lifetime through operational changes to conserve helium. Additionally, many updates to calibration and scheduling activities have been made in order to maximum the scientific return from Spitzer. Spitzer has met its level one science time requirement of 90%, and routinely exceeds it today. All this has been achieved with an operating budget that is substantially smaller than that of NASA's other Great Observatories. This paper will describe the overall performance of the Spitzer Space Telescope Science Operations System and detail the modifications made to increase both the helium lifetime and the science data return. It will also discuss trades made between performance improvements and cost. Lessons learned which can be applied to future observatory operations will be included in the paper. This work was performed at the California Institute of Technology under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 June 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6270, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems, 627002 (29 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.670621
Show Author Affiliations
Suzanne R. Dodd, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Deborah A. Levine, California Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6270:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems
David R. Silva; Rodger E. Doxsey, Editor(s)

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