Asteroid and Comet Census from WISE
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This animation demonstrates how the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, surveys asteroids and comets in the solar system. The project to hunt for asteroids and comets -- including near-Earth objects, or NEOs -- using the WISE data is called NEOWISE.
The perspective shown here is looking down from high above Earth's North Pole, a kind of bird's eye view of the solar system. The planets are shown as blue dots, and their orbits are the dashed lines. Earth is the third blue dot from the sun. The big mass of black dots consists of asteroids in the main belt, between Mars and Jupiter.
The green dots show the known near-Earth objects, both asteroids and comets, that NEOWISE has spotted so far. Newfound near-Earth objects are shown as red dots. The turquoise squares are comets observed by the mission so far, and the yellow squares are newfound comets.
The animation covers the period from early January through mid-September, 2010. As of Oct. 4, 2010, the project has observed more than 150,000 main belt asteroids and discovered more than 33,500. It has observed 452 near-Earth objects and discovered 118. It has also observed 110 comets and discovered 19.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/JHU
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