Astronomy Today

Infrared Space Telescopes

What was the IRAS telescope?

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite, or IRAS, was launched in 1983 by an international science consortium that included the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands. The main telescope on IRAS was a twenty-three-inch (fifty-eight-centimeter) reflector telescope. The infrared light collected by this telescope was measured and recorded by sixty-four semiconductor panels, and sent down to Earth by radio signals. To keep the scientific instruments cool, they were surrounded by a large insulated flask of liquid helium. The IRAS instruments operated until the liquid helium, which lasted about seven months, boiled away into space.


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