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C. Cesarsky (CEA)
The European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) was launched in November 1995 and operated successfully until April 1998. With much enhanced capabilities in imaging, photometry and spectroscopy, ISO solved many of the riddles left by its predecessor, IRAS. Main themes are: the nature of the mid infrared insterstellar emission, the physical processes in gas and dust in various environments, the formation of stars and of protoplanetary disks, the energy sources of Ultra Luminous Infrared Galaxies, and dust enshrouded star formation in the distant universe. In turn, ISO leaves open riddles for its successors, such as SIRTF and FIRST, to solve.