The Legacy of Spitzer:


Valued Senior Member

The Spitzer Space Telescope made many important discoveries in the solar system during its 16 year-long mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

To understand the significance of the Spitzer Space Telescope on the understanding of our solar system, think of what the steam engine meant for the industrial revolution.

A national team of scientists today published in the journal Nature Astronomy two papers that provide an inventory of the major discoveries made possible thanks to Spitzer and offer guidance on where the next generation of explorers should point the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) when it launches in October 2021.

"The Spitzer Space Telescope made many important discoveries in the solar system during its 16 year-long mission, and it is important to capture the highlights of these with useful references for future scientists to use in their research," says Carey M. Lisse, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, lead author of one paper.

Lisse, a planetary astronomer, put together the team of 27 authors who penned the legacy papers. The authors were selected based on the significant discoveries they made using Spitzer during its 16-year mission. The team includes three University of Central Florida researchers, who offer suggestions for the next space telescope mission.

David Trilling, a planetary scientist and professor at Northern Arizona University, is the lead author on the second paper.
MORE AT LINK.......................

the paper:

Spitzer’s Solar System studies of comets, centaurs and Kuiper belt objects:

In its 16 years of scientific measurements, the Spitzer Space Telescope performed ground-breaking and key infrared measurements of Solar System objects near and far. Targets ranged from the smallest planetesimals to the giant planets; Spitzer helped us to reshape our understanding of these objects while also laying the groundwork for future infrared space-based observations like those to be undertaken by the James Webb Space Telescope in the 2020s. In this Review Article, we describe how Spitzer advanced our knowledge of Solar System formation and evolution through observations of small outer Solar System planetesimals—that is, comets, centaurs and Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). Relics from the early formation era of our Solar System, these objects hold important information about the processes that created them.We group Spitzer’s key contributions into three broad classes: characterization of new Solar System objects (comets D/ISON 2012 S1, C/2016 R2 and 1I/‘Oumuamua); large population surveys of known objects (comets, centaurs and KBOs); and compositional studies through spectral measurements of body surfaces and emitted materials.