A NASA spacecraft that discovered tens of thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system before being placed in hibernation will return to service for three more years starting in September, helping the agency identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects, as well as those suitable for asteroid exploration missions.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will be revived with the goal of discovering and characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs), space rocks that can be found orbiting within 45 million kilometers of Earth’s path around the sun. NASA anticipates WISE will use its 40-centimeter telescope and infrared cameras to discover about 150 previously unknown NEOs and characterize the size, albedo and thermal properties of about 2,000 others — including some that could be candidates for the agency’s recently announced asteroid initiative.
NASA’s asteroid initiative will be the first mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid. It represents an unprecedented technological feat that will lead to new scientific discoveries and technological capabilities that will help protect Earth, NASA said.
For more on the new WISE mission, see the NASA press release.