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ISO: Infrared Space Observatory

The European Space Agency's (esa) Infrared Space Observatory (iso) is an astronomical satellite that was launched in 1995. iso - successing the US-Dutch-British iras satellite - operated at wavelengths from 2.5 to 240 microns, in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.


The satellite essentially consists of a large liquid-helium cryostat; a telescope with a 60-cm diameter primary mirror; four scientific instruments and the service module. A consortium led by the Netherlands made an important contribution in the form of the Short Wavelength Spectrometer (sws).
iso, which observed at wavelengths between 2.5 and 240 microns, operated from november 1996 to April 1998 at which point the liquid-helium coolant was exhausted. Among of its most important discoveries is that a large fraction of young stars are surrounded by disks of gas and dust out of which planetary systems might form.
Dutch Space was responsible for the crucial iso attitude controll system.

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