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Fwd: NASA's Wise Eye Spies First Glimpse of the Starry Sky

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  • mahtezcatpoc
    Jan. 6, 2010 J.D. Harrington Headquarters, Washington [phone number redacted] Whitney Clavin Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. [phone number
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2010
      Jan. 6, 2010

      J.D. Harrington
      Headquarters, Washington

      [phone number redacted]

      Whitney Clavin
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

      [phone number redacted]

      RELEASE: 10-005


      WASHINGTON -- NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has
      captured its first look at the starry sky that it will soon begin
      surveying in infrared light.

      Launched on Dec. 14, WISE will scan the entire sky for millions of
      hidden objects, including asteroids, "failed" stars and powerful
      galaxies. WISE data will serve as navigation charts for other
      missions such as NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, pointing
      them to the most interesting targets WISE finds.

      A new WISE infrared image was taken shortly after the space
      telescope's cover was removed, exposing the instrument's detectors to
      starlight for the first time. The picture shows 3,000 stars in the
      Carina constellation. It can be viewed online at:


      The image covers a patch of sky about three times larger than the full
      moon. The patch was selected because it does not contain any
      unusually bright objects, which could damage instrument detectors if
      observed for too long. The picture was taken while the spacecraft was
      staring at a fixed patch of sky and is being used to calibrate the
      spacecraft's pointing system.

      When the WISE survey begins, the spacecraft will scan the sky
      continuously as it circles the globe, while an internal scan mirror
      counteracts its motion. This allows WISE to take "freeze-frame"
      snapshots every 11 seconds, resulting in millions of images of the
      entire sky.

      "Right now, we are busy matching the rate of the scan mirror to the
      rate of the spacecraft, so we will capture sharp pictures as our
      telescope sweeps across the sky," said William Irace, the mission's
      project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,

      To sense the infrared glow of stars and galaxies, the WISE spacecraft
      cannot give off any detectable infrared light of its own. This is
      accomplished by chilling the telescope and detectors to ultra-cold
      temperatures. The coldest of WISE's detectors will operate at less
      than 8 Kelvin, or minus 445 Fahrenheit.

      The first sky survey will be complete in six months, followed by a
      second scan of one-half of the sky lasting three months. The WISE
      mission ends when the frozen hydrogen that keeps the instrument cold
      evaporates away, an event expected to occur in October 2010.

      Preliminary survey images are expected to be released six months
      later, in April 2011, with the final atlas and catalog coming after
      another 11 months in March 2012. Selected images will be released to
      the public beginning in February 2010.

      JPL manages WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
      The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers
      Program, managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
      Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory
      in Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace &
      Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data
      processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center
      at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

      More information about the WISE mission is available online at:



      --- End forwarded message ---
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