Feeds

NASA's WISE loses its chill

Frozen hydrogen spent, but heavenly surveyor lives on

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, aka WISE, has finally run out of the frozen hydrogen cryogen which kept its infrared detectors nicely chilled as it surveyed the heavens.

Since launching in December last year on its mission to map the entire sky in search of "millions of hidden objects, including asteroids, 'failed' stars and powerful galaxies", WISE's 40-cm (16-inch) telescope has captured over 1.8 million snaps in four infrared wavelengths.

When it completed its first full survey back in July, NASA released this fine view of the Pleiades star cluster:*

The Pleiades captured by WISE. Pic: NASA

WISE has already sniffed out "19 comets and more than 33,500 asteroids, including 120 near-Earth objects", although there are plenty more discoveries expected as scientists trawl the vast library of images it beamed back to Earth.

Jaya Bajpayee, the WISE program executive in the Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "The science data collected by WISE will be used by the scientific community for decades. It will also provide a sky map for future observatories like NASA's James Webb Space Telescope."

Although WISE's main mission is done and dusted, it will continue to operate at a balmy -203°C on the NEOWISE [Near Earth Object + WISE] Post-Cryogenic Mission. Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained: "Two of our four infrared detectors still work even at warmer temperatures, so we can use those bands to continue our hunt for asteroids and comets."

The first batch of WISE data will be released to the astronomical community in spring 2011, and the rest about a year later. NASA has an initial gallery of images right here. ®

Bootnote

* NASA explains: "Color is representational: blue and cyan represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is dominated by light from stars. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is mostly light from warm dust."

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?
Two places available in the chase plane above the desert
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.