Why Create an Infrared Zoo?
Why did NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) and its Spitzer Science Center (SSC) create an Infrared Zoo Web Site?
Part of IPAC/SSC's mission is to conduct education and outreach efforts aimed at students, teachers and the general public. Although our specialty is infrared astronomy, we feel that a first step in understanding the infrared universe is to learn what the world around us looks like in the infrared and to understand the unique knowledge that can be gained by viewing our world in a different light.
The Infrared Zoo was created after we realized how fascinated students were with the infrared images that we took of animals. Infrared images of animals always seemed to spark interest in learning more about infrared light. These images also had an additional benefit - they clearly showed students the difference between warm and cold-blooded animals - a concept that some students can have difficulty understanding. The Infrared Zoo, which is now one of our most popular sites, is not only a valuable teaching tool, but also provides a gateway to learning more about infrared light and the infrared universe.