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After completing its primary mission to map the infrared sky, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has reached the expected end of its onboard supply of frozen coolant. Although WISE has 'warmed up,' NASA has decided the mission will still continue. WISE will now focus on our nearest neighbors -- the asteroids and comets traveling together with our solar system's planets around the sun.

The NEOWISE Post-Cryogenic Mission is designed to complete the survey of the solar system and finish the second survey of the rest of the sky at its new warmer temperature of about minus 334 degrees Fahrenheit using its two shortest-wavelength detectors. The survey extension will last one to four months, depending on early results.

WISE launched Dec. 14, 2009, from Vandenberg Air Force Station in California aboard a Delta II launch vehicle. Its 16-inch infrared telescope scans the skies from an Earth-circling orbit crossing the poles. It has already snapped more than 1.8 million pictures at four infrared wavelengths. Currently, the survey has covered the sky about one-and-one-half times, producing a vast catalog containing hundreds of millions of objects from near-Earth asteroids to cool stars called brown dwarfs to distant, luminous galaxies. 

To date, WISE has discovered 19 comets and more than 33,500 asteroids, including 120 near-Earth objects, which are those bodies with orbits that pass relatively close to Earth's path around the sun. More discoveries regarding objects outside our solar system, such as the brown dwarfs and luminous galaxies, are expected.

TRT: 00:56
HQ Contact: J. D. Harrington 202-358-5241
JPL Contact: Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
For more info:

Hashima Hasan, WISE Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters

Cut 1 - 00:13 – “The mission was designed for a 9 month all sky survey, and we have met all of our mission objectives and the whole sky has surveyed in the infrared.”
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Hashima Hasan, WISE Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters

Cut 2- 00:43 – “The Mission actually has four detectors, two in the slightly shorter wave length and two in the longer wavelength.   When the instrument heats up the two longer wavelength detectors can no longer be used, because of the background, but the two shorter wavelengths can still do a limited amount of science.   The science that we hope to achieve is to look at asteroids and near Earth objects and so we plan to run the mission for another month to see how much of the near Earth objects we can actually see.  If it turns out we can see a significant number of them we may extend the mission a little longer.”
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