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The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) provides a unique laboratory for the study of the lifecycle of dust given its low metallicity (1/5 solar) and relative proximity (∼60kpc). This motivated the SAGE-SMC (Surveying the Agents of Galaxy Evolution in the Tidally Stripped, Low Metallicity Small Magellanic Cloud) Spitzer Legacy program with the specific goals of studying the amount and type of dust in the present interstellar medium, the sources of dust in the winds of evolved stars, and how much dust is consumed in star formation. This program mapped the full SMC (30 deg2) including the body, wing, and tail in seven bands from 3.6 to 160 μm using IRAC and MIPS on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The data were reduced and mosaicked, and the point sources were measured using customized routines specific for large surveys. We have made the resulting mosaics and point-source catalogs available to the community. The infrared colors of the SMC are compared to those of other nearby galaxies and the 8 μm/24 μm ratio is somewhat lower than the average and the 70 μm/160 μm ratio is somewhat higher than the average. The global infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) shows that the SMC has approximately 1/3 the aromatic emission/polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon abundance of most nearby galaxies. Infrared color-magnitude diagrams are given illustrating the distribution of different asymptotic giant branch stars and the locations of young stellar objects. Finally, the average SED of H II/star formation regions is compared to the equivalent Large Magellanic Cloud average H II/star formation region SED. These preliminary results will be expanded in detail in subsequent papers. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Astronomical Journal