Fwd: NASA's Wise Eye Spies First Glimpse of the Starry Sky
- Jan. 6, 2010
[phone number redacted]
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
[phone number redacted]
NASA'S WISE EYE SPIES FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE STARRY SKY;
INFRARED ALL-SKY SURVEYING TELESCOPE SENDS BACK FIRST IMAGES FROM SPACE
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
"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:
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