WISE is a NASA-funded scientific research project scheduled for launch on November 1, 2009. The WISE satellite will carry a 40 cm infrared-sensitive telescope and provide an "all-sky" survey in the 3 to 25 Ám wavelength range (3.3, 4.7, 12, and 23 Ám). The WISE survey will be at least 500 times more sensitive than IRAS or Akari. WISE is the an acronym for: Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer.
The WISE spacecraft will be placed in a 525 km, circular, polar, synchronous orbit for its seven month mission, during which it will take 1.5 million 11-second exposure images, each covering a 47 arcminute field of view. The complete mission will include 99% of the sky with at least eight images from each position to increase accuracy.
The image library produced will contain data on the solar system, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the Universe. Among the objects WISE will study are cool, dim stars such as brown dwarfs, asteroids, and the most luminous infrared galaxies.
WISE is scheduled for launch on November 2, 2009. It has been approved by NASA to proceed to the construction stage. Construction is divided between Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (spacecraft, operations support), SSG Precision Optronics, Inc. (telescope, optics, scan mirror), DRS and Rockwell (focal planes), Lockheed Martin (cryostat, cooling for the telescope), and Space Dynamics Lab (instruments, electronics, and testing). The program is managed through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The WISE spacecraft is built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado. The spacecraft is derived from the Ball Aerospace RS-300 spacecraft architecture, particularly the NEXTSat spacecraft built for the successful Orbital Express mission launched on March 9, 2007. The flight system has an estimated mass of 560 kg (about 1,175 pounds). The spacecraft will be three-axis stabilized, with body-fixed solar arrays and use a high-gain antenna in the Ku-band to transmit to ground through the TDRSS geostationary system. In addition to building the spacecraft, Ball Aerospace will perform test and flight system integration.
On November 8, 2007, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a hearing to examine the status of NASA's Near-Earth Object survey program. The prospect of using WISE was proposed by NASA officials.
WISE will survey the sky in the infrared band at a very high sensitivity. Asteroids, which absorb solar radiation, can be observed through the infrared band. NASA officials told Committee staff that NASA plans to use WISE to detect NEOs, in addition to performing its science goals. It is projected that WISE could detect 400 NEOs (or roughly 2 percent of the estimated NEO population of interest) within the 1 year mission.
The WISE Mission is led by Dr. Edward L. Wright of the University of California, Los Angeles. The mission has a long history under Dr. Wright's efforts, and was first funded by NASA in 1999 as a candidate for a NASA Medium-class Explorer (MIDEX) mission under the name Next Generation Sky Survey (NGSS). The history of the program from 1999 to date is briefly summarized as follows:
WISE Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer: updates.
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.