Feeds

NASA's WISE opens 'candy store of images'

Galaxies and comet pose in the infrared

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.