WISE telescope may not be given three-month extension

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some bad news here (but not the biggest tragedy ever; more on that in a bit) - a panel has recommended that the WISE telescope not be given an extra three months to carry out an extended mission for asteroids, comets and stars after its primary mission is over at an estimated cost of $6.5 million. It's bad news because being able to spot that many extra asteroids at such a low price is a great deal (remember, asteroids can hit the Earth and cause a lot of damage), but it's not the biggest tragedy ever because it would have taken place after its liquid hydrogen had depleted, and this liquid hydrogen that cools down the instruments is what gives it the ability to detect cool bodies like brown dwarf stars, after which it becomes more like a normal telescope. So it won't affect the ability to spot those, and the discovery of brown dwarfs will be the most important thing WISE does. Next in importance after that are the extra asteroids and comets.

Not sure if this was in response to the recommendation, but the next day the WISE team released an image of an asteroid traveling across a galaxy that it happened to be observing at the same time.

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