10 years ago, a Delta II rocket launched NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescopefrom Cape Canaveral, Fla.
As the fourth Great Observatory to enter into space, Spitzer has studied comets and asteroids, counted stars, and most notably, discovered “buckyballs” — soccer-ball-shaped carbon spheres crucial to star birth. The telescope’s infrared vision allows it to see the coldest, farthest, and dustiest parts of space with incredible detail and clarity.
Entering its second-decade of space scrutiny, Spitzer must now undertake the task of helping NASA observe and potentially capture and redirect an asteroid nearing Earth.
This infrared image shows a Helix nebula 700 light years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius.
The Carina nebula, shown below, contains Eta Carinae, a massive star around 100 times the size of the sun.
Two extremely bright stars omit a greenish fog, comprised of carbon and hydrogen compounds found right here on Earth in vehicle exhaust.
This formation, overtaking the Crab nebula, represents the leftovers from a star's spectacular death in Taurus in 1054 A.D.
This photo of Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud contains more than 300 newborn stars. It's one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system.
The 'flames' in this Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy are actually giant ripples of dust, spanning hundreds of light years.
Powerful winds and intense radiation surrounding high mass stars create large columns of gas and dust, seen on the sides of the photo.
M33 is one of the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbours, located about 2.9 million light years away.
Here, new stars 'hatch' from the constellation Orion's head. Astronomers suspect shock waves from a supernova nearly three million years ago initiated the birth.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.