IRAS

From Academic Kids

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was a space-based observatory that performed a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths.


Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS)

IRAS and all-sky images

OrganizationNASA, NIVR, SERC
Wavelength regimeinfrared
Orbit("sun-synchronous")
Launch date25 Jan 1983
Deorbit date21 Nov 1983
Coolant720 L (77 kg) of superfluid He
Mass(fill in)
Other namesnone
Webpagehttp://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/product/iras
Physical Characteristics
Telescope Style()
Diameter0.57 m
Collecting Area~1 m2
Focal Length5.5 m, f/9.6
Instruments
(main survey
instrument)
array of 65 detectors
Low Resolution
Spectrometer (LRS)
8–22 µm slitless spectrometer
Chopped Photometric
Channel (CPC)
low-quality mapping

Launched in January 25, 1983, its mission lasted ten months. It was a joint project of the United States (NASA), the Netherlands (NIVR), and the United Kingdom (SERC).

IRAS mapped 96% of the sky four times, at 12, 25, 60 and 100 micrometre wavelengths. It discovered about 500,000 sources, many of which are still awaiting identification. About 75,000 of those are believed to be starbust galaxies, still enduring their star-formation stage. Many other sources are normal stars with disks of dust around them, possibly the early stage of a planetary system formation. New discoveries included a dust disk around Vega and the first images of the Milky Way Galaxy's core.

IRAS's life, like most of infrared satellites, was limited by its cooling system: to effectively work in the infrared domain, a satellite must be cooled to impressively low temperatures. In IRAS' case, 720 liters of superfluid helium kept the satellite at a temperature of 1.6 kelvins (about −272 C). The fluid keeps the satellite cool by evaporation. When the fluid totally evaporated, the satellite temperature rose preventing further observations.

Today (2004), the Spitzer Space Telescope is the best infrared telescope, allowing astronomers to follow up many detections first made by IRAS.

See also: telescope, space telescope.

In addition to its main work, IRAS also discovered three asteroids, including notably 3200 Phaethon (an Apollo asteroid and the parent body of the Geminid meteor shower), as well as the periodic comet 126P/IRAS.

Asteroids discovered: 3
3200 Phaethon October 11 1983
3728 IRAS August 23 1983
10714 1983 QG August 31 1983

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