A wise man once said: “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.”
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft has been re-activated and called up for duty by NASA. After being placed in hibernation (a low power state) for the past three years, WISE will be fully functional again next month.
WISE’s original mission was to create infrared images of 99 percent of the sky, with at least eight images made of each position on the sky in order to increase accuracy.
WISE was placed in a 326 mi (525 km), circular, polar, sun-synchronous orbit during its original ten month mission. During that time the spacecraft took 1.5 million images, one every 11 seconds.
NASA approached Congress in 2007 about using WISE for finding Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) and with a couple of close flyby’s and the massive bolide in Siberia a few months ago, it seemed prudent to try and find these NEO’s before they find us.
WISE will also be used to find asteroids suitable for exploration missions and NASA’s asteroid initiative, or how to catch an release an asteroid.
It shows that keeping some spacecraft operational after their mission (instead of crashing them down to Earth) can be productive.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +