NASA Launches Telescope to Detect Space Threats
WISE infrared telescope will scan whole sky for hazardous objects
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2009 11:16 AM CST
Workers prepare NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, spacecraft.   (AP Photo/NASA/Moore,VAFB)
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(Newser) – NASA today launched the first orbiting telescope since 1983 designed to search the entire sky for objects and phenomena invisible to conventional optics. Over the next nine months, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer will scan the whole sky one and a half times over looking for asteroids and comets that could intersect Earth’s orbit. Scientists expect to find hundreds of objects that would evade, say, the Hubble.

“Infrared technology has come a long way since” 1983, the project’s principal investigator tells CNN. WISE will detect light and heat outside of the visual spectrum, and produce “images that look like actual photographs,” he continues. “Old all-sky infrared pictures were like impressionist paintings.” Another scientist says the project will “protect our Earth” by uncovering the “diversity of potentially hazardous asteroids.”