WISE: Beyond Hubble
July 24, 2010 10:15 PM   Subscribe

On July 17th, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth. After just seven months in orbit, WISE -- a precursor to the planned James Webb Space Telescope -- has returned more than a million images that provide a close look at celestial objects ranging from distant galaxies to asteroids. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year, but in the meantime we can see some of the images and animations that NASA has released to date: Galleries (containing just a small selection of images): 1, 2, 3, 4. Videos and Animations: 1, 2

The WISE mission can be followed on Twitter and Facebook. There is an rss feed for images here.
posted by zarq (11 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Tangentially related: Emily Lakdawalla (science and technology coordinator for the Planetary Society and a correspondent for Planetary.org) recently posted a neat scale diagram which compares every asteroid and comet that has been visited by spacecraft. Ms. Lakdawalla's work has been mentioned on Metafilter previously: She came up with and coordinated the "Martian Moment", during the New York Times Lens blog's "Moment in Time" project.

The chart isn't directly related to WISE, but I found it here when I was researching this post and thought it interesting enough to mention.
posted by zarq at 10:22 PM on July 24, 2010

Nobody better tell Full-On Double Rainbow Guy about this...
posted by Crane Shot at 10:26 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's always great to see projects I worked on end up on the blue. Just a few weeks ago, I swung by my old stomping grounds and crossed paths with one of the WISE project scientists.

The spacecraft has performed like a champion (nearly every spacecraft has periodic events where the system goes into safe mode which means hours or days of limited operations, but last I heard WISE hadn't even had a single safe event). It's got enough cryogen for a bit of an extended mission, and they have found TONS of near-earth objects and cool (literally) brown dwarfs. The main topic of the scientist I talked to was NEOs and brown dwarfs, but I'm sure the scientists looking for ULIRGs and other extragalactic oddities are finding just as much exciting stuff.

Not since IRAS nearly 30 years ago have we had a full sky survey in these wavelengths, and though I'm not privvy to all the details, the scientists aren't just happy about how WISE has gone, but they're downright ecstatic.
posted by chimaera at 10:37 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'd missed the "Martian Moment" the first time around. It almost looks eerie, but the fact that this piece of technology that has traveled so far has something as low-tech as a sundial on it (which is a simply perfect idea) really grounds it for me. We used sundials to tell the time before Mars was really a concept, and now there's one ON Mars. Pretty neat.

Oh, and of course: zarq rules, ok.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:49 PM on July 24, 2010

Beautiful awesome pictures. I remember going to camp when I was a kid - and the night sky ablaze with stars, planets, satellites - and the faint glow of the milky way. We got the spiel about how far away the objects were - and how incredibly old the starlight we were seeing was. And at 8 years old - I got my first existential pangs. I felt incredibly miniscule - but incredibly fortunate also - the luck of seeing all these beatiful things in the skies. I entertained the ideas of being an astronomer until I hit Unversity math.

Images like these alway reminds me of a time of awe, innocence, and wonder. Great post
posted by helmutdog at 11:20 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awsome post. APOD is my homepage so I've seen a few of these. This one is awsome.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:37 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

WISE has spotted 25,000 never-before-seen asteroids in just six months. 95 are considered "near-Earth" asteroids ... has also sighted 15 new comets.

Something else interesting I ran across in the past day: Chesapeake Bay (edge of Maryland and Virginia) is a 35-million-year-old impact crater. Not many seem to be arguing with this.

A retired Canadian geologist has hypothesized that the Gulf of Mexico is a huge impact crater. "Cut out the land masses on a world map, Now piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle, you see the only hole not filled is The Gulf of Mexico!" (Separately from the Chixulub impact.)
posted by Twang at 3:00 AM on July 25, 2010

I'm this guy standing on a planet
Really I'm just a speck
Compared with the stars
the planet is just another speck

To think about all of this
to think about the vast emptiness of space
and billions and billions of stars
billions and billions of specks

~Bill Nye the Science Guy
posted by bwg at 6:12 AM on July 25, 2010

It's a great big universe
And we're all really puny
We're just tiny little specks
About the size of Mickey Rooney.
It's big and black and inky
And we are small and dinky
It's a big universe and we're not.

~Yakko Warner
posted by ecurtz at 9:31 AM on July 25, 2010

I've been waiting for a decent map for years now!

Roadtrip anyone?
posted by The Whelk at 2:56 PM on July 25, 2010

where we're going we don't need ...roads
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on July 25, 2010

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