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NASA Spitzer Space Telescope • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• California Institute of Technology
• Vision for Space Exploration
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Why Go to Space?

The Infrared Spectrum

Atmospheric Transmission
This graph shows how much "light" (the electromagnetic spectrum) gets through the atmosphere at different wavelengths.

Some near-infrared light reaches high and dry mountain-top observatories. These windows of atmospheric transparency are centered at 1.25, 1.65, 2.2, 3.5, 4.8 microns. Small amounts of IR light can occasionally be observed from the ground near 10 and 20 microns. Astronomers use high-flying airplanes and balloons to get above most of the atmosphere. Only space-borne infrared observatories, however, provide an unimpeded view of the infrared universe.

More Information



The Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This website is maintained by the Spitzer Science Center, located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center. Privacy Policy

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