Infrared Astronomical Satellite
IRAS • Missions & Center • Past
For ten months in 1983, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) scanned more than 96 percent of the sky. IRAS was a joint project of the US, UK and the Netherlands. The IRAS mission performed an unbiased, sensitive all sky survey at 12, 25, 60 and 100 µm. The satellite design and survey strategy were optimized for maximally reliable detection of point sources. Pointed observations, known as Additional Observations or AOs, were also done, interspersed with the survey observations.
This path-breaking infrared satellite doubled the number of known astronomical sources and made numerous important scientific advances. IRAS discoveries included a disk of dust grains around the star Vega, six new comets, and very strong infrared emission from interacting galaxies as well as wisps of warm dust called infrared cirrus which could be found in almost every direction of space. IRAS also revealed for the first time the core of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Archival research with IRAS data continues nearly 20 years after this historic mission.
Currently, IRSA at IPAC holds the IRAS archive. Mission holdings are comprised of catalogs and images, together with specialized software tools and accompanying documentation.