NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) Collects Impressive Catalog
JPL Science Highlight: Planetary Program Support
Research by Edward Wright, WISE Principal Investigator; UCLA; Amy Mainzer, WISE Deputy Project Scientist; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Science Writer, Samantha Harvey
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), is building up a large collection of cosmic specimens- everything from distant galaxies to "failed" stars, called brown dwarfs.
WISE is picking out an impressive collection of asteroids and comets, some known and some never seen before. Most of these are located in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter, but a small number are near-Earth objects -- asteroids and comets with orbits that pass within about 48 million kilometers (30 million miles) of Earth's orbit.
By studying a small sample of near-Earth objects, WISE will learn more about the population as a whole. How do their sizes differ, and how many objects are dark versus light? So far, the mission has observed more than 60,000 asteroids, both Main Belt and near-Earth objects. Most were known before, but more than 11,000 are new. About 190 near-Earth asteroids have been observed to date, of which more than 50 are new discoveries.
Significance to Solar System Exploration:
With these findings, WISE can better understand the asteroid population as a whole- their origins, and how they vary in light, shape and size throughout the Solar System.
Last Updated: 24 January 2011