Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

This is a space telescope I have been eager to see launched and in operation. Called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE for short, this telescope will map the entire universe in infrared in a short time of only 6 months. This will result in some spectacular images and if you haven’t seen what infrared images look like, do a google for images taken by the Spitzer telescope.

WISE was launched last night at 8:09 pm Sydney time and it should now be safely in orbit. NASA will be running tests on it for the next 2 weeks and the first images should be seen sometime next month.

(Click to Enlarge)

This telescope will be of great help in spotting new comets and asteroids which have not been discovered by existing telescopes. As these are discovered by WISE I will hopefully be able to add them in Sydney Comet Watch and Sydney Asteroid Watch as their orbital data is made public.

WISE will be taking an image in 4 seperate colors every 11 seconds ……. about 5700 pictures every day. I was wondering why NASA was rushing this mapping of the universe into a 6 month period. I discovered that it seems that this telescope’s ability to do a deep sky survey is limted to a specific time period as the telescope only has a 10 month supply of coolant which is important in cooling down the telescope. I have to admit that I am surprised that there is only 10 month supply of coolant instead of 2 years.

Even though the Spitzer telescope has the ability to take infrared pictures, it only mapped 1% of the heavens…… this shows the huge difference between spitzer and WISE as WISE will do the entire mapping in 6 months.

WISE is expected to discover 100,000 new asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. With such numbers I will not be adding a post for each of these new discoveries but will post data on any of these asteroids which stand out from the rest.

~ by sydneystargazers on December 15, 2009.

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