Sunday, December 22, 2013

NEOWISE Returns For Planetary Defense

Hey Space Placers!

Hello from 70-degree and rainy Virginia. Record likely to be set again today for highest temp.

Planetary defense against comets and asteroids got a welcome addition this week by the return of pictures from NASA's reactivated and renamed Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE). 

NEOWISE started off as the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) which was a hugely successful spacecraft that discovered thousands of asteroids, comets and astronomical objects during a multi-year whole sky survey in infrared. Infrared is useful in finding objects as allows the detection of heat from the object even though it may not be visible otherwise.

The spacecraft has been in hibernation for 31-months and was found to be in excellent health upon reactivation in September. NEOWISE will resume asteroid and comet hunting following ground preparations in the next few months. 

NEOWISE will be looking for prime candidates for NASA's Asteroid Initiative Mission in addition to asteroids and comets that pass within 28 million miles of Earth.

This is a very welcome addition to our planetary defense assets. Good hunting NEOWISE!

Sky Guy in VA

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