NASA Releases Millions of Images from SDL Built Space Telescope

April 14, 2011

NORTH LOGAN, UTAH – Astronomers from across the world can now search hundreds of millions of galaxies, stars and asteroids thanks to NASA’s preliminary release of data from the SDL-built Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).  NASA announced earlier today the release of WISE data to the general public, which includes images from the first 105 days of WISE survey observations.

Launched in 2009, the WISE sensor was built in North Logan, Utah, to detect heat given off by objects in space, ranging in temperature from minus 330 Fahrenheit to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit.  In order to accomplish these measurements, SDL designed the instrument with a 16-inch telescope and four infrared detectors containing one million pixels each.  While in orbit, the sensor was kept cold inside a container filled with frozen hydrogen.

The initial release of data includes an image atlas, containing the images captured by WISE, and a source catalog, giving the position and brightness of over 250 million objects detected in the WISE images.

“This is a significant milestone for NASA’s WISE mission, and I’m happy that SDL was able to play an integral role in it,” said Niel Holt, director of the Space Dynamics Laboratory.  “WISE is an important example of our successful relationship as a trusted partner with NASA, providing infrared and other technologies to help them accomplish their missions over the past four decades.”

The WISE data were processed, and the catalogs created by the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), both of the California Institute of Technology. Access to the WISE preliminary release data products will be available via a web interface provided by the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive (IRSA). The final release is scheduled for the Spring of 2012 and will include the data products for 100% of the sky.

So far, the WISE mission has released dozens of colorful images of the cosmos. The whole collection can be seen at

The public archive for astronomers is online at

JPL manages and operates the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at the University of California, Los Angeles. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the IPAC at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Founded in 1959, SDL has been responsible for the design, fabrication, and operation of thousands of sensors on more than 500 payloads ranging from aircraft and rocket-borne experiments to space shuttle experiments, small satellites, and satellite-based sensor systems. As one of 14 University Affiliated Research Centers in the nation, SDL conceives and develops state-of-the-art sensor and satellite systems; performs space, air, and ground-based experiments; conducts rapid, experimental development of prototype sensor hardware and associated software; performs concept validation studies and demonstrations; and develops data fusion technology for passive and active sensors.