Washington: NASA is bringing a space probe, which helped discover tens of thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system, out of its hibernation.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will return to service for three more years starting in September with the goal of discovering and characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs), space rocks that can be found orbiting within 45 million kilometers (28 million miles) from Earth`s path around the sun.
NASA anticipates WISE will use its 16-inch (40-centimeter) telescope and infrared cameras to discover about 150 previously unknown NEOs and characterize the size, albedo and thermal properties of about 2,000 others-including some of which could be candidates for the agency`s recently announced asteroid initiative.
John Grunsfeld, NASA`s associate administrator for science in Washington, said that the WISE mission achieved its mission`s goals and as NEOWISE extended the science even further in its survey of asteroids. NASA is now extending that record of success, which will enhance the ability to find potentially hazardous asteroids, and support the new asteroid initiative.
He said that reactivating WISE is an excellent example of how they are leveraging existing capabilities across the agency to achieve our goal.
Launched December 2009 to look for the glow of celestial heat sources from asteroids, stars and galaxies, WISE took about 7,500 images every day during its primary mission from January 2010 to February 2011.