NEOWISE Concludes Hunt for Near-Earth Objects

During its one-year mission, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mapped the entire sky in infrared light. Among the multitudes of astronomical bodies that have been discovered by the NEOWISE portion of the WISE mission are 20 comets. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

The WISE spacecraft has completed a special mission called NEOWISE, looking for small bodies in the solar system, and has discovered a plethora of previously unknown objects. The NEOWISE mission found 20 comets, more than 33,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 134 near-Earth objects (NEOs). More data from NEOWISE also have the potential to reveal a brown dwarf even closer to us than our closest known star, Proxima Centauri, if such an object does exist. Likewise, if there is a hidden gas-giant planet in the outer reaches of our solar system, data from WISE and NEOWISE could detect it.

“WISE has unearthed a mother lode of amazing sources, and we’re having a great time figuring out their nature,” said Edward (Ned) Wright, the principal investigator of WISE at UCLA. (…) Read the rest of Mission Complete: NEOWISE Concludes Hunt for Near-Earth Objects (586 words)

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