Between these windows, there are generally regions where infrared observations are more difficult or impossible to conduct from the ground, due to the opacity of the atmosphere. Dedicated infrared and submillimeter telescopes are generally built at very high altitude sites, such as the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii and the ALMA site in Chile. Some telescopes are flown on aircraft like SOFIA, providing the best sensitivity available from Earth-based observatories. Data from space-based observatories, such as Spitzer, IRAS, and ISO, help fill in the gaps between the atmospheric windows listed above.
Space telescopes used for infrared astronomy
- Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS): Launched on January 25, 1983, IRAS was a joint project of the United States (NASA), the Netherlands (NIVR), and the United Kingdom (SERC). It was the first-ever space-based observatory to perform a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. Its mission lasted ten months. It discovered about 350,000 sources, many of which still await identification.
- Infrared Space Observatory (ISO): This telescope was launched in November 1995 and operated until it ran out of liquid helium in May 1998. It was operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), in cooperation with ISAS (part of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA), and NASA. The ISO was designed to make observations in the infrared region of wavelengths between 2.5 and 240 micrometers.
- Spitzer Space Telescope: Launched on August 25, 2003, the Spitzer telescope is one of NASA's Great Observatories. It follows a heliocentric orbit (instead of a geocentric orbit). It follows Earth in its orbit, and drifts away from Earth at approximately 0.1 astronomical unit per year. The primary mirror is 85 cm in diameter, with a focal length that is 12 times the diameter of the primary mirror, and it is made of beryllium and cooled to 5.5 K.
- Bradt, Hale. 2004. Astronomy Methods: A Physical Approach to Astronomical Observations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521535519
- Canary Islands Winter School on Astrophysics, A. Mampaso, M. Prieto, and F. Sánchez. 2003. Infrared Astronomy: IV Canary Islands Winter School of Astrophysics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521548106
- Glass, I. S. 1999. Handbook of Infrared Astronomy. Cambridge Observing Handbooks for Research Astronomers, 1. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521633850
- Kitchin, C. R. 2003. Astrophysical Techniques, 4th ed. Bristol: Institute of Physics Pub. ISBN 978-0750309462
All links retrieved March 3, 2018.
- Infrared Astronomy Tutorial Caltech IPAC.
- Optical and Infrared Astronomy Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.