The mark of a leader is knowing when you need help, and no organization has done more for the space race than that of NASA. NASA has been working on their space telescopes, dubbed their ‘Gret Observatories’, and that has led to them trying to get United States based organizations involved. NASA made the announcement that they would like to see if there are any institutions within the United States that would be interested in taking over the day-to-day operations of the prestigious Spitzer Space Telescope. The reason? NASA has lost funding for the IR observatory and it will run out by 2019. Interested applicants must submit their information by November 17th of 2017.
Paul Hertz is director for NASA’s astrophysics division and during a meeting for the Astophysics Advisory Committee he announced, “We would be thrilled if there was a non-NASA party interested in funding the operations…”. Right now, Hertz and the team at NASA will stay hands on in operation of the Spitz until March of 2019 while the prepare their observations for the equally important James Webb Space Telescope. The goal in having a private party come aboard is to help NASA handle some of the immense cost associated with the ambitious projects.
Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, the project manager at Spitzer, released a statement making it very clear that the observatory was in “excellent health”. She want on to say that there were no hardware issues with the Spitzer. There are, however, problems that hover about the Spitzer — almost literally. Spitzer follows the Earth in orbit which means that the massive machine is drifting further away from our planet every single year, making it harder for communications to come through cleanly. As the Spitzer moves further away, it must angle itself more and more severely to pitch back information. The Spitzer has never had to turn more than 30 degrees away from the sun but it is rapidly approaching that point — which may bode trouble for the solar panels.