Two Launches, for Ultraviolet and Infrared Astronomy

Two satellite observatories launched on this date in space history, both boosted by Delta rockets, both international in scope, to look at opposite ends of the spectrum.

First, 35 years ago today — January 26, 1978 — Explorer 57, also known as the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), was launched out of Cape Canaveral. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center built the satellite and its optical instrumentation, Britain’s Science Engineering Research Council provided television cameras, and the European Space Agency provided the solar panel paddles as well as a European control center.

(IRAS. NASA image.)

Five years later, on January 26, 1983, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) (pictured above) launched from Vandenberg AFB. A joint mission between the US, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, this mission completed a full-sky survey that detected nearly 350,000 infrared sources and revealed the core of our Milky Way galaxy.

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