PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 17 (UPI) — NASA says it has released the first cosmic images from its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope, which was launched Dec. 14.
“Since WISE began its scan of the entire sky in infrared light … the space telescope has beamed back more than a quarter of a million raw, infrared images,” NASA said in a statement. “Four new, processed pictures illustrate a sampling of the mission’s targets — a wispy comet, a bursting star-forming cloud, the grand Andromeda galaxy and a faraway cluster of hundreds of galaxies.”
Ed Weiler, associate administrator of the space agency’s Science Mission Directorate, said the telescope has worked superbly.
“These first images are proving the spacecraft’s secondary mission of helping to track asteroids, comets and other stellar objects will be just as critically important as its primary mission of surveying the entire sky in infrared,” Weiler said.
The principal investigator for the project, Edward Wright of UCLA, said, “We’ve got a candy store of images coming down from space. Everyone has their favorite flavors, and we’ve got them all.”
The spacecraft, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will scan the sky one-and-a-half times by October. At that point, the frozen coolant needed to chill its instruments will be depleted.
The newly released images are available at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/multimedia/images20100216.html.
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