Missions with Data Served by IRSA

Spitzer Space Telescope

The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched on August 25, 2003. Spitzer is the final mission in NASA's Great Observatories Program. During the 5.5 year cryogenic mission, Spitzer made spectral and photometric observations between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns. Imaging at 3.6 and 4.5 microns continues during the ongoing Spitzer Warm Mission. IRSA serves all Spitzer data from both the cryogenic and warm missions through the Spitzer Heritage Archive (SHA). In addition, IRSA serves enhanced data products from Spitzer Legacy programs.

Pictured: The Spitzer Space Telescope in an infrared Milky Way, from the Spitzer Cool Cosmos Image Gallery


The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a NASA Medium Explorer mission launched in December 2009. It is an all-sky survey over four broad-wavelength bands centered near 3.4, 4.6, 12, and 22 microns. In the two shortest wavelength bands, WISE reached sensitivities half a million times deeper than the Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment onboard the Cosmic Background Explorer. In the two longest wavelength bands, WISE reached sensitivities 500 times better than the Infrared Astronomical Satellite. In early October 2010, after completing its prime science mission, the spacecraft ran out of coolant. However the NEOWISE portion of the WISE mission continued for four months, using the 3.4 and 4.6 micron channels to search for asteroids and comets. The spacecraft was reactivated in September 2013 for the NEOWISE-R survey. IRSA serves as the archival center for all WISE data.


The Herschel Space Observatory was the European Space Agency's fourth "Cornerstone Mission" and deployed a passively cooled 3.5 meter telescope to observe the Far-infrared and Submillimeter Universe. Herschel launched in May 2009 and operated until 29 April 2013. In keeping with its role as NASA's infrared and submillimeter data archive, IRSA is providing tools for searching the Herschel archive at ESA, and hosts Herschel User-Provided Data Products to facilitate cross-comparison with data from other infrared missions.


Planck is a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA involvement. The primary goal of the Planck mission is to measure the intensity and polarization of the sky over a range of frequencies from 30 to 857 GHz (wavelengths of 1 cm to 350 microns) in order to characterize the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. Planck was launched on May 14, 2009 aboard the same rocket that carried the Herschel Space Observatory into space. The nominal Planck mission ended after 15 months on Nov. 2010, but the extended mission continued until October 2013. IRSA archives Planck data products for use by the U.S. Astronomical Community. The Early Release Compact Source Catalog was released in January 2011. The Planck Data Release 1 (DR1) occurred on March 21, 2013.


The Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) scanned the entire sky in three near-infrared bands, J (1.25 µm), H (1.65 µm) and Ks (2.17 µm), to produce a deep survey of uniform calibration quality.
Pictured: The Milky Way as compiled from a quarter billion stars in the 2MASS catalog, from the 2MASS Showcase.


IRAS was a joint project of the US, UK, and the Netherlands. It operated in 1983, performing an unbiased, sensitive, nearly full-sky survey at 12, 25, 60 and 100 µm. The IRAS mission holdings are comprised of catalogs and images, together with specialized software tools and accompanying documentation.
Pictured: A view of the Vela/Puppis region in our Milky Way galaxy, from the IPAC Infrared Gallery.


The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) project is an astronomical survey designed to probe the formation and evolution of galaxies as a function of cosmic time (redshift) and large scale structure environment. The survey covers a 2 square degree equatorial field with imaging by most of the major space-based telescopes (Hubble, Spitzer, GALEX, XMM, Chandra) and a number of large ground based telescopes (Subaru, VLA, ESO-VLT, UKIRT, NOAO, CFHT, and others). Over 2 million galaxies are detected, spanning 75% of the age of the universe. The COSMOS survey involves almost 100 scientists in a dozen countries.


BLAST is a 2-m balloon-borne submillimeter telescope that conducted the first wide-area submillimeter surveys at wavelengths 250-500 microns on two long-duration flights in 2005 and 2006. Built and flown by an international collaboration headed by the University of Pennsylvania (P.I. Mark Devlin), the telescope uses a prototype of the SPIRE camera for the Herschel satellite.


Bolocam is the millimeter-wavelength bolometer array camera designed for mapping large fields at fast scan rates, for observations at 1.1 and 2.1 mm, at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO). The camera has 115 working pixels with 8 arcmin Field of View (FOV) which is approximately circular. The beam Full Width Half Maximum (FWHM) is 30 arcsec at 1.1 mm and 60 arcsec at 2.1 mm. At all wavelengths, the pixel spacing (nearest neighbors of hexagonal close-packed array) is 38 arcsec.


The Infrared Telescope in Space (IRTS) is a cryogenically cooled, small infrared telescope that flew from March - April in 1995. It surveyed approximately 10% of the sky with a relatively wide beam during its 20 day mission. Four focal-plane instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRS), the Mid-Infrared Spectrometer (MIRS), the Far-Infrared Line Mapper (FILM), and the Far-Infrared Photometer (FIRP) made simultaneous observations of the sky at wavelengths ranging from 1 to 1000 µm.


IRSA provides an interface to the archive for the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), housed near Madrid, Spain. ISO collected data between November 1995 and April 1998. Aboard ISO were four science instruments: an infrared camera (CAM), a long-wavelength spectrometer (LWS), a photo-polarimeter (PHT), and a short-wavelength spectrometer (SWS).
Pictured: ISOCAM map of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) at a wavelength of 15 microns, from the IPAC Infrared Gallery


The MSX mission completed the census of the mid-infrared sky. It covered the regions missed by IRAS or where the sensitiviy of IRAS was degraded by confusion noise arising in regions of high source densities or structured extended emission.
Pictured: A false-color composite of the Eagle Nebula, from the IPAC Infrared Gallery


The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) is a fully-automated, wide-field survey aimed at a systematic exploration of the optical transient sky.


SWAS was launched into low Earth orbit on December 05, 1998, and obtained spectra at 487-557 GHz. The primary objective of SWAS was to survey water, molecular oxygen, carbon, and isotopic carbon monoxide emission in a variety of galactic star forming regions.

Contributed Data Sets

IRSA is chartered to serve infrared data contributed by the user community, particularly though not limited to NASA Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP) data sets. Contributed data sets served by IRSA are:

External Data Sets


AKARI is an infrared astronomical satellite operated by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). AKARI launched on 21 February 2006 and surveyed more than 96% of the sky at wavelengths of 9-160 microns during its 16-month cryogenic mission.


The Deep Near-Infrared Survey of the Southern Sky (DENIS) performed a 16,700 sq. deg. survey using three simultaneously acquired bands: one optical band (Gunn-i at 0.82um) and two near-infrared bands (J at 1.25um and Ks at 2.15um), with limiting magnitudes of 18.5 mag, 16.5 mag, and 14.0 mag, respectively. DENIS was conducted by a European consortium using the 1m telescope at the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile. DENIS observations began at the end of 1995 and were completed on 09 September 2001.


The Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) is a ground-based imaging survey of the entire sky in several colors. The survey, performed with Palomar and UK Schmidt telescopes, produced photographic plates that were later digitized at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) to produce the Hubble Guide Stars Catalog (GSC). The DSS images are mirrored at IRSA to facilitate cross-comparisons between infrared and optical data.


Gaia is an ESA mission to map the positions and proper motions of over 1 billion stars, along with radial velocities for the brightest 150 million sources.


The NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) is built around a master list of extragalactic objects for which cross identifications of object names and positions are established using data published in journal articles and survey catalogs covering all wavelengths. Detailed photometry, positions, and redshift data are assimilated, entered with uncertainties when available, and linked to bibliographic references, abstracts and online literature. NED also maintains an image archive that currently contains over 1.9 million images, maps and links to external images. NED's image archive focuses on unique FITS images acquired from authors of journal articles, but also includes cut-outs from very large sky surveys such as 2MASS and the Digitized Sky Survey. This service is a collaborative project between NED and IRSA.


PPMXL is a catalog of positions, proper motions, 2MASS and optical photometry of 900 million stars and galaxies, aiming to be complete down to about V=20 full-sky. It is the result of a re-reduction of USNO-B1 together with 2MASS to the ICRS as represented by PPMX. For more details, see Roeser, Demleitner, & Schilbach (2010). PPMXL is the first composite catalog served by IRSA.


SDSS images are used in several IRSA services. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) mapped one quarter of the entire sky, determining the positions and absolute brightnesses of more than 100 million celestial objects. It also measured the distances to more than a million galaxies and quasars. The Data Release 7 (DR7) imaging data cover 11663 square degrees, and include information on roughly 357 million objects. SDSS serves, among other products, FITS image files in five bands (u, g, r, i, z). IRSA includes SDSS data in Finder Chart and the Montage Image Mosaic service.


The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) has performed several all-sky optical surveys spanning many decades. IRSA serves copies of the USNO-B1.0 Catalog, the UCAC4 catalog, and the URAT1 catalog.

Coming Soon


SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to accommodate a 2.5 meter reflecting telescope. Its nine first-light instruments will provide researchers with access to a continuous wavelength coverage from the optical to the submillimeter (0.35 - 655 microns). SOFIA is the largest airborne observatory in the world. IRSA will be the long-term repository for public SOFIA data products.


The IRTF is a 3.0 meter telescope, optimized for infrared observations, and located at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai`i. The observatory is operated and managed for NASA by the University of Hawai`i Institute for Astronomy, located in Honolulu. NASA provides the costs of operation and NSF provides funding for new focal plane instrumentation through the peer review process. Observing time is open to the entire astronomical community, and 50% of the IRTF observing time is reserved for studies of solar system objects.