WISE To Rejoin the Hunt

wiseasteroid

WISE spots asteroid 1998 KN3 (bright yellow spot on left) go by near the Orion nebula. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The WISE spacecraft is being reactivated to continue the hunt for asteroids. WISE was launched in December 2009 and was very successful, discovering more than 33,000 new  asteroids and comets. One of the many interesting discoveries included the brown dwarf star system just 6.5 light years away.

The primary mission ended in October 2010 when the coolant ran out. A new mission called spacecraft began using two (out of four total) that do not require cryogen for cooling. The NEOWISE mission was scheduled to run a month and ended up being extended three months because it worked so well. After the NEOWISE mission the spacecraft was put into hibernation.

It will be nice to have WISE back in the hunt.

About the image from NASA:

This image shows the potentially hazardous near-Earth object 1998 KN3 as it zips past a cloud of dense gas and dust near the Orion nebula. NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission, snapped infrared pictures of the asteroid, seen as the yellow-green dot at upper left. Because asteroids are warmed by the sun to roughly room temperature, they glow brightly at the infrared wavelengths used by WISE.

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