The state of the focus and image quality of the Spitzer Space Telescope as measured in orbit

Robert D. Gehrz, Edward A. Romana, William F. Hoffmann, John P. Schwenker, John E. Mentzell, Joseph L. Hora, Peter R. Eisenhardt, Bernhard R. Brandl, Lee Armus, Karl R. Stapelfeldt, Dean C. Hines, Amanda K. Mainzer, Erik T. Young, David G. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We describe the process by which the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) Cryogenic Telescope Assembly (CTA) was brought into focus after arrival of the spacecraft in orbit. The ground rules of the mission did not allow us to make a conventional focus sweep. A strategy was developed to determine the focus position through a program of passive imaging during the observatory cool-down time period. A number of analytical diagnostic tools were developed to facilitate evaluation of the state of the CTA focus. Initially, these tools were used to establish the in-orbit focus position. These tools were then used to evaluate the effects of an initial small exploratory move that verified the health and calibration of the secondary mirror focus mechanism. A second large move of the secondary mirror was then commanded to bring the telescope into focus. We present images that show the CTA Point Spread Function (PSF) at different channel wavelengths and demonstrate that the telescope achieved diffraction limited performance at a wavelength of 5.5 μm, somewhat better than the level-one requirement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter Space Telecopes - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 21 2004Jun 25 2004


  • Cryogenic
  • Focus
  • IRAC
  • IRS
  • MIPS
  • Noise-pixels
  • Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
  • Telescope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The state of the focus and image quality of the Spitzer Space Telescope as measured in orbit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this