Spitzer Space Telescope’s 15-year sojourn in space is filled with numerous discoveries

What goes into making a Comet?

Comets are now known by their make up and the heavy elements that they are composed of. Space missions have even landed on a comet and made observations from its surface, but before all that happened, Spitzer was among the first to actually find out what their composition is. The primordial soup as it were, of the Solar System was identified by having Spitzer look closely at comet Tempel as the Deep Impact spacecraft intentionally crashed into it. The crash expelled a cloud of dust and material. NASA says it helped astronomers actually piece together, “the ingredients that eventually produced planets, comets and other bodies in our solar system.”
Saturn's largest ring

Saturn’s largest ring

Saturn is possibly the most easily recognisable planet in Earth’s neighbourhood because of its rings. It is the planet’s defining feature, in spite of the fact that all the outer gas giants, including Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune have rings. Spitzer’s discovery, however, makes it clear that Saturn is the ultimate ringed planet. Saturn has one outer ring that is larger than just about any ring in the Solar System (on a planetary scale). The ring sits about 6 million km from the planet itself. It is also 20 times thicker and about 170 times wider than Saturn. NASA says that if it were visible from Earth, this ring alone would be about twice the size of the Moon in the night sky. Spitzer detected a glow of cool dust in the ring, leading to its discovery. Spitzer picked up temperatures as cold as minus 193 degrees Celsius.
Collision of planets

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