Spatial Infrared Imaging Telescope

SPIRIT III, the long-wave infrared instrumentation package aboard MDA’s Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX), primarily consisted of a high spatial resolution radiometer, a high spectral resolution interferometer-spectrometer, and an extremely high-off-axis-rejection telescope. SDL designed and built the SPIRIT III sensor system and completed extensive testing, calibration, and integration. The MSX spacecraft launched from Vandenberg AFB in April 1996. SPIRIT III accomplished all mission goals:

  • Characterize Earth-limb and celestial backgrounds and measure the spectral, spatial, temporal, and intensity parameters of stars and upper atmospheric phenomena, including airglow and aurora
  • Detect, track and discriminate selected realistic targets against terrestrial, Earth-limb and celestial backgrounds
  • Assist investigators in identification and evaluation of the chemical and physical properties of the upper atmosphere on a global scale
  • Prove technologies such as the use of solid hydrogen to cool a space-borne IR telescope
  • Support a wide variety of dual use research involving astronomy, and space contamination and debris