WISE completes first survey

The WISE infrared space survey telescope has completed a survey of the night sky. The telescope will now set off on a second survey, half of which should be completed by the time the coolant runs out in November. At this point, the temperature of the spacecraft is expected to rise from 8 Kelvin to 72 Kelvin, meaning it will be producing too much heat for observations to be made in two of the four wavelength bands it can focus. At this point, there is the possibility of running on in a ‘warm phase’, using just these two bands, as the Spitzer space telescope does, but the funding has not been authorised for that.

Researchers are now sifting through the data, which contains a large number of new asteroids, a dozen or so comets and some brown dwarfs alongside a treasure trove of more familiar objects in unfamiliar wavelengths.

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