Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year 2010 starts off Right with WISE

Artist rendering of WISE satellite

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, Is beginning its observational studies after having popped off its lens cap on Dec. 29th. WISE will study thousands of objects in the infrared spectrum of light. It is expected to find many interesting objects beyond our solar system such as failed stars and distant small galaxies. What interest me more at this time is its ability to find "dark asteroids" which don't show up in normal telescopic surveys.

This will give us a greater opportunity to map additional orbital debris from the creation of our solar system, as well as potential Near Earth Orbit Asteroids that could pose an impact danger to Earth. The mission to map these dark objects is only expected to last about nine months. The camera is using a special coolant which will evaporate after that time, rendering the camera useless. WISE will take about 7500 images every day!

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