The NASA Spacecraft WISE (Wide Infrared Survey Explorer) whose previous mission was to collect data with regard to asteroids throughout the solar system. Having completed its mission successfully the WISE was retired and currently is resting. In October 2010 its expected end of onboard frozen hydrogen had been expended although it was still viable at warmer temperatures. In February 2011 WISE was decommissioned. During its mission it discovered 20 new comets, 33,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars & Jupiter, and 134 NEOs (Near Earth Objects).
During its initial mission it took infrared images every 11 seconds. With each image a new area of the sky was covered – exponentially larger than that of the moon. Four times a day the data was downloaded using radio transmission and helped to form a new celestial atlas. Now, it has a new mission and a new identity. WISE – Asteroid Hunter; Sounds like a movie!
NASA intends to point WISE’s 16-inch telescope toward the ~150 or so unknown NEO asteroids as well as the 2000 or so known and then have it transmit back data that details the size, ability to reflect light,thermal properties etc. With asteroids on the brain more recently, although they have ALWAYS been a threat, and with WISE’s previous mission concentrating on the asteroids of the solar system (the ones we would have two year or more before they hit) it is reassuring to know that the”all-knowing” WISE one will be patrolling the skies above once again and seeking NEOs.