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Spitzer Space Telescope: 10 Years in Space (Photo: The runaway blue star Zeta Ophiuchi smashes material between the stars into a vast bow wave.)

Ten years ago today, on Aug. 25, 2003, NASA launched the Spitzer Space Telescope aboard a Delta II rocket into space — Happy 10th, Spitzer!

It’s been a wildly successful decade. The telescope’s mirror is relatively small as these things go; it’s a mere 85 centimeters (34”) across — Hubble has a 2.4 meter mirror. But you don’t need a huge piece of glass (in this case, beryllium) to make a big impact: Spitzer was the most sensitive and highest-resolution telescope ever launched that could see in the infrared …

Photo: The dust and gas in the Carina Nebula, a vast star-forming complex over 7000 thousand light years from Earth. The bright star in the middle, Eta Carinae, is blasting out radiation that is so intense it’s carving out and blowing away the material around it …

More out-of-this-world photos: Spitzer Space Telescope (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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