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M. D. Bicay (SSC/Caltech)
The Space InfraRed Telescope Facility (SIRTF) is the fourth and final element in NASA's family of Great Observatories, and an important component of the new Origins Program. This cooled, meter-class telescope will be launched into an innovative orbit in December 2001. Immersed in the benign thermal environment of deep space, SIRTF will achieve an anticipated lifetime of 5+ years.
An important part of the SIRTF project is a vigorous education and public outreach program. This plan is constructed around three primary themes: (i) The Concept of Temperature; (ii) From Photons to Knowledge; (iii) The Scientific Process. Within each of these themes, a series of intellectually coherent education modules will be developed and disseminated to educators, students, and the general public. These modules will not only introduce the concepts of infrared astronomy, but will elaborate on how scientists learn about the universe and its cosmic menagerie through (almost exclusively) remote measurements. Future modules will provide an "insiders look" at the scientific process itself, examining how dramatic technology developments enable scientific progress, how the essence of knowledge evolves over time, and why scientists constantly face the paradox of providing answers - only to raise more questions.