DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artist's impression of IRAS in orbit. The Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) was launched on 25 January 1983. Its primary instrument was a 60cm telescope, cooled to -271 Celsius and operating in the 12- 100 micron infrared waveband. The satellite operated for ten months, completing a survey of 96% of the sky. On its first day of operation, IRAS recorded over 4000 infrared sources, including 20 previously unidentified galaxies. IRAS catalogued 22 comets and 1811 asteroids, discovered methane on Pluto, identifed a dust ring around the star Alpha Lyrae and a collapsing gas cloud thought to be a protostar in the constellation Ophiucus.
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