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Infrared eye to help search for asteroids
NASA is preparing to launch an infrared telescope that will hunt down dark asteroids that have slipped beneath our radar.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft recently arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its launch later this year.

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Infrared eye to help search for asteroids
NASA is preparing to launch an infrared telescope named WISE that could indeed live up to its name. Among its targets: dark asteroids that have slipped beneath the radar of an ongoing project to map objects larger than 1 kilometre that orbit near Earth.

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WISE is a NASA-funded Explorer mission that will provide a vast storehouse of knowledge about the solar system, the Milky Way, and the Universe. Among the objects WISE will study are asteroids, the coolest and dimmest stars, and the most luminous galaxies.
WISE is an unmanned satellite carrying an infrared-sensitive telescope that will image the entire sky. Since objects around room temperature emit infrared radiation, the WISE telescope and detectors are kept very cold (below -430 F /15 Kelvins, which is only 15 Centigrade above absolute zero) by a cryostat -- like an ice chest but filled with solid hydrogen instead of ice.

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WISE Mission Arrives At Launch Site
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has arrived at its last stop on Earth -- Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
WISE is scheduled to blast into space in December, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2. Orbiting around Earth, it will scan the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, unveiling hundreds of thousands of asteroids, and hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies.

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Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
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NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been assembled and is undergoing final preparations for a planned Nov. 1 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The mission will survey the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, creating a cosmic clearinghouse of hundreds of millions of objects -- everything from the most luminous galaxies, to the nearest stars, to dark and potentially hazardous asteroids. The survey will be the most detailed to date in infrared light, with a sensitivity hundreds of times better than that of its predecessor, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite.

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WISE Mission
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NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been assembled and is undergoing final preparations for a planned Nov. 1 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The mission will survey the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, creating a cosmic clearinghouse of hundreds of millions of objects -- everything from the most luminous galaxies, to the nearest stars, to dark and potentially hazardous asteroids. The survey will be the most detailed to date in infrared light, with a sensitivity hundreds of times better than that of its predecessor, the partly NASA-funded Infrared Astronomical Satellite.

"Most of the sky has never been imaged at these infrared wavelengths with this kind of sensitivity. We are sure to find many surprises" - Edward Wright, the mission's principal investigator at UCLA.

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WISE instrument
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The U.S. space agency says its wide-field infrared survey explorer instrument named WISE is ready to be joined with its satellite for launch later this year.

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Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission
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New Mission Might Find Closest Stars
JPL's Amy Mainzer spoke at a 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society press conference about the upcoming JPL-managed Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, scheduled to launch in late 2009. This infrared telescope will seek out the closest stars to our sun -- "brown dwarfs" too cool to be seen in visible light.

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WISE to Map the Sky in IR Light
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After eight years of study, NASA has approved the construction of an unmanned satellite that will scan the entire sky in infrared light to reveal nearby cool stars, planetary "construction zones" and the brightest galaxies in the universe.
An estimated $300-million mission, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or "WISE," is scheduled to launch into an Earth orbit in late 2009. It will spend seven months collecting data a few times a day.
Edward L. Wright, a University of California, Los Angeles professor of physics and astronomy, is WISE's principal investigator. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will manage the mission, with JPL's William Irace as project manager.

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WISE Satellite
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WISE is a NASA-funded scientific research project that will provide a vast storehouse of knowledge about the solar system, the Milky Way, and the Universe. Among the objects WISE will study are asteroids, the coolest and dimmest stars, and the most luminous galaxies.


NASA SAYS: 'BUILD IT AND INFRARED SURPRISES WILL COME'
Engineers are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for building a telescope that will find the nearest star-like objects and the brightest galaxies. NASA has approved the start of construction on a new mission called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which will scan the entire sky in infrared light.

"There's a whole infrared sky out there full of surprises. By surveying the entire sky, we are bound to find new and unexpected objects" - Dr. Edward Wright, principal investigator for the mission at the University of California, Los Angeles.

An estimated $300-million mission, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or "Wise," has been in the planning stages for the past eight years. It is scheduled to launch into an Earth orbit in late 2009. It will spend seven months collecting data.
Such extensive sky coverage means the mission will find and catalogue all sorts of celestial eccentrics. These may include brown dwarfs, or failed stars, that are closer to Earth than Proxima Centauri, the nearest star other than our sun. Brown dwarfs are balls of gas that begin life like stars but lack the mass to ignite their internal fires and light up like normal stars. They do, however, produce warm infrared glows that Wise will be able to see.

"Brown dwarfs are lurking all around us. We believe there are more brown dwarfs than stars in the nearby universe, but we haven't found many of them because they are too faint in visible light" - Dr. Peter Eisenhardt, project scientist for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Wright, Eisenhardt and other scientists recently identified brown dwarfs using NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope. Wise will vastly expand the search, uncovering those brown dwarfs closest to Earth that might make ideal targets for future planet-hunting missions. Recent Spitzer findings support the notion that planets might orbit brown dwarfs.
Wise might also find the most luminous galaxies in the universe, some so far away that their light has taken 11.5 billion years to reach Earth. Galaxies in the distant, or early, universe were much brighter than our own Milky Way galaxy, but dust thought to exist in these objects blocks much of their ultraviolet and visible light. These dusty coats light up at infrared wavelengths; however, the galaxies are few and far between, so they can be difficult to find. Wise will comb the whole sky in search of them.

"It's hard to find the most energetic galaxies if you don't know where to look. We're going to look everywhere" - Dr. Peter Eisenhardt.

The spacecraft's detectors will be approximately 500 times more sensitive than those of a previous infrared survey mission, called the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, a joint European-NASA venture that operated in 1983.

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