The Infrared Space Observatory… or ISO for short. Launched in 1995 by a European Ariane Rocket and funded between ESA, NASA and an agency that’s now part of JAXA, the ISO was state of the art at the time. It spent three years in orbit, taking images, photometric measurements and taking stellar spectra before it’s superfluid helium coolant ran out.
ISO made some fantastic discoveries actually. Water molecules around stars, silicate crystals, hydrogen fluoride in interstellar clouds, intergalactic dust, planet formation around dying stars… Actually, ISO was probably one of the things that really kicked astrochemistry into becoming the field it is today.
The amazing thing is that all of those observations are archived and freely available on the internet. Not just that, but the data is all still very useful. It’s strange actually. For all of the measurements made with ISO, it seems like in most cases, they just processed the data and left it there for someone else to find.
Makes you wonder what you might discover if you look hard enough…