NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) began its survey of the infrared sky today. The mission will spend nine months scanning the sky one-and-a-half times in infrared light, revealing all sorts of cosmic characters -- everything from near-Earth asteroids to young galaxies more than ten billion light-years away.
WISE, which launched Dec. 14, 2009, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will uncover hundreds of thousands of asteroids, and hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies. Its vast catalog of data will provide astronomers and other missions with data for mine for decades to come.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise, http://wise.astro.ucla.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise .