Artist's concept of the Spitzer Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech-ESA/Hubble/Digitized Sky Survey 2

The long-running Spitzer Space Telescope is nearing the end of its mission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced in a quietly posted blog entry on May 16. The spacecraft's last day of operations is set for Jan. 30, 2020.

Why it matters: Spitzer transformed our understanding of the universe. The telescope — which looks out at the universe in infrared light — has helped astronomers clock the expansion of the universe, map the Milky Way and discover black holes.

The telescope has been a workhorse for NASA, beaming home images and discoveries for 16 years.

Details: According to a tweet from Aviation Week & Space Technology editor Irene Klotz, NASA considered "private entities" to take over operations of the telescope, "but none could secure funding."

  • Scientists and members of the public are now posting remembrances of the telescope on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #spitzerfinalvoyage.
  • NASA is planning to launch its next infrared observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, to orbit in 2021.

But, but, but: While the spacecraft's mission is ending, the science from it will not. Scientists will still be able to analyze and reanalyze the data Spitzer beamed to Earth during its long life in space.

What they're saying: "The people who operate the observatory are a family and we are surrounded by our cousins, the science community who have so creatively driven the science of the mission," Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, Spitzer project manager, wrote in the blog post announcing the end of the mission. "When I started on this path I could not have imagined how rewarding this journey would be."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

11 mins ago - Technology

Judge temporarily halts Trump's WeChat ban

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge early on Sunday temporarily blocked a Trump administration order banning the downloads of the Chinese-owned, global messaging app WeChat.

Why it matters: The temporary injunction means WeChat will remain on Apple and Google's app stores, despite a Commerce Department order to remove the app by Sunday evening.

Bill Clinton slams McConnell and Trump: "Their first value is power"

Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) vow to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat before the next presidential inauguration "superficially hypocritical."

The big picture: Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court in 1993, declined to say whether he thinks Democrats should respond by adding more justices if they take back the Senate and the White House in November. Instead, he called on Republicans to "remember the example Abraham Lincoln set" by not confirming a justice in an election year.

Pelosi: Trump wants to "crush" ACA with Ginsburg replacement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that President Trump is rushing to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he "wants to crush the Affordable Care Act."

Why it matters: Pelosi wants to steer the conversation around the potential Ginsburg replacement to health care, which polls show is a top issue for voters, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has urged the courts to strike down the law, and with it, protections for millions with pre-existing conditions.