SDL-built spacecraft releases new photos

By Kevin Opsahl
The Herald Journal
April 16, 2011
WISE captured a striking view of two companion galaxies

In this undated image released by NASA taken by the WISE telescope showing a massive star plowing through space dust. The result is a brilliant bow shock, seen here as a yellow arc. (AP Photo/NASA)

Images of asteroids, galaxies and stars taken from the Space Dynamics Lab-built Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer are now available to the public after NASA's preliminary release of the data.

The data dump includes images from the first 105 days of WISE survey observations.

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 more than 250 million objects detected in the WISE images.

Access to the WISE preliminary release data products will be available via a Web interface provided by the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive. The final release is scheduled for the spring of 2012, according to SDL.

"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, in the press release. "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."

Standing taller than 9 feet and weighing nearly 1,400 pounds, WISE is a telescope that is completing a survey of the entire sky. The resulting images are revealing new details of asteroids and distant galaxies. WISE was built at SDL on USU's Innovation campus in North Logan.

According to the SDL website, WISE is the only currently funded NASA Midclass Explorer program. It launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Dec. 14, 2009.

SDL is a unit of USU's nonprofit Research Foundation, which has built relationships with NASA and the Department of Defense. SDL is responsible for the majority of the university's aerospace funding, with the rest going to researchers in the engineering and physics departments.