This morning NASA launched the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer), a solar-powered infrared telescope that will scan the skies for earth-threatening asteroids and comets. We love covering all things green, but solar power plants and eco-friendly architecture mean very little if the planet has been obliterated by an asteroid – which is why NASA’s new satellite is so exciting.

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The solar-powered WISE isn’t the first infrared spacecraft to travel through space — NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory are also currently circling the heavens — but WISE is the only telescope to scan the entire sky looking for asteroids and comets that are threatening to Earth.

The spacecraft, which will spend the next 9 months in orbit, will cover the entire sky 1.5 times and take pictures every 11 seconds. All data will be downloaded 4 times daily via radio transmission to Earth-based computers. Eventually, NASA will have enough data to create a master image of the sky, complete with asteroids, comets, and other objects. Here’s hoping WISE doesn’t find anything too threatening!


Via Smart Planet