Orbiting Telescope Offers New Sky Map

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) — A NASA sky-mapping telescope has finished its first full survey of the sky, scanning asteroids, comets and galaxies, some never seen before, scientists say.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, launched in December, scans the heavens in infrared light, which allows the orbiting observatory to see through thick clouds of cosmic dust to capture detailed images of previously unseen objects, SPACE.com reported Friday.

“The primary goal of the mission is to do an all-sky survey in the thermal infrared with much higher sensitivity than has ever been done before,” Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator at UCLA said. “We’re succeeding in that.”

WISE has seen more than 100,000 asteroids, 25,000 of them previously undetected. Most are located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but some –- called near-Earth objects –- have orbits that bring them relatively close to Earth. WISE observed more than 90 new near-Earth objects, SPACE.com said.

“The WISE all-sky survey is helping us sift through the immense and diverse population of celestial objects,” Hashima Hasan, program scientist at National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C., said.

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