Feeds

NASA's WISE opens 'candy store of images'

Galaxies and comet pose in the infrared

High performance access to file storage

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has dispatched to Earth its first full-fat photos following a calibration shot released in early January.

WISE principal investigator, Edward Wright of UCLA, enthused: "We've got a candy store of images coming down from space. Everyone has their favorite flavors, and we've got them all."

Among the flavours on offer is this fetching snap of the Andromeda galaxy, captured by the spacecraft's "longest-wavelength infrared detectors", with 12-micron light shown here as orange, and 22-micron light as red:

Andromeda at 12 and 22 microns. Pic: NASA

If you don't like that flavour, try this image of Andromeda posing at 3.4 microns:

Andromeda at 3.4 microns. Pic: NASA

NASA explains: "A pronounced warp in the disk of the galaxy, the aftermath of a collision with another galaxy, can be clearly seen in the spiral arm to the upper left side of the galaxy."

WISE has also grabbed comet Siding Spring (full image details here) and its tail stretching "about 10 million miles":

Comet Siding Spring. Pic: NASA

Ed Weiler, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "WISE has worked superbly. These first images are proving the spacecraft's secondary mission of helping to track asteroids, comets and other stellar objects will be just as critically important as its primary mission of surveying the entire sky in infrared."

At an operating altitude of 525km, WISE will pass over the poles 15 times a day taking a picture every 11 seconds through its 40-cm (16-inch) telescope. It will eventually deliver around 1,500,000 images of the heavens "with a sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before".

NASA expects to snap "millions of hidden objects, including asteroids, 'failed' stars and powerful galaxies". The data will offer "navigation charts for other missions, such as NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, pointing them to the most interesting targets the mission finds".

NASA's WISE spacecraft. Pic: NASA

WISE's instruments operate in a frozen-hydrogen-filled cryostat (above), which ensures they're kept chilled as low as 8 Kelvin, preventing the spacecraft's own infrared emissions interfering with observations. The mission is expected to end in around October 2010, when the hydrogen finally evaporates away.

The main WISE page is here, the mission overview here, and further spacecraft details are here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.