Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mapped the entire sky in 2010 with 500 times more more sensitivity than previous infrared missions using its four-channel, super-cooled infrared telescope. Launched on December 14, 2009, the WISE mission will also help the James Webb Space Telescope identify which objects to observe when it launches later in the decade.
WISE observations have led to numerous discoveries, including the elusive, coolest class of stars, the first known "Trojan" asteroid to share the same orbital path around the sun as Earth, and locations of supermassive black holes throughout the universe called blazars.
The WISE spacecraft is based on the versatile, space-proven Ball Aerospace BCP-300 spacecraft bus design.
WISE captured this image of the immense Andromeda galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or simply M31
Under contract to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ball Aerospace conducted the spacecraft design, build, and test; and conducted flight system testing and support operations.
This animation below, created by Ball Aerospace, shows a schematic of WISE’s orbit. WISE is placed in an orbit that takes it over the north and south poles of Earth and several hundred miles above the dividing line between day and night on Earth—called the terminator. As it circles Earth, WISE is oriented so as to keep its solar panels always facing the Sun.