Space Dynamics Laboratory Ships Science Instrument to Chart the Skies

By Eric Warren
Utah State University Research Foundation
May 19, 2009

NORTH LOGAN, Utah—Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) announced that it has completed NASA’s Wide‐field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) science instrument. The WISE instrument was shipped from SDL’s manufacturing and test facility in North Logan, Utah, to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., where it will be integrated onto the satellite.

“Following a scheduled launch late this year, the SDL‐built WISE instrument will collect millions of images from which hundreds of millions of astronomical objects will be catalogued,” said Dr. Doug Lemon, director of SDL. “For decades SDL has worked with NASA to map the skies and our commitment to NASA continues as WISE prepares to chart space in infrared light, searching for the closest stars and asteroids, the origins of star systems, and some of the brightest galaxies in the Universe.”

Built for NASA by SDL, the WISE instrument is a super‐cooled infrared space‐based telescope designed to provide a full sky, infrared map that will advance the understanding of our Universe. Additionally, it will enable the James Webb Space Telescope to more efficiently target objects of interest in space. The James Webb Space Telescope is the next‐generation follow‐on to the Hubble Space Telescope.

With hundreds of times the infrared sensitivity of any previous all‐sky survey, WISE will measure the diameters of over 100,000 asteroids in our solar system, and provide a complete inventory of nearby young stars as well as of the debris disks associated with planetary systems around older nearby stars.

Standing approximately two meters tall and weighing over 360 kilograms at launch, the WISE instrument is designed to discover many cool, dim brown dwarf stars close to our sun, and detect far distant ultra–luminous infrared galaxies where star formation is taking place at a greatly accelerated rate.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., manages WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The mission's principal investigator, Ned Wright, is at the University of California, Los Angeles. The science instrument was built by SDL, and the spacecraft is being built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing will take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Celebrating 50 years, SDL advances scientific and defense goals for commercial, civil and government customers. As a leading university affiliated applied research and engineering laboratory for aerospace, climate and defense applications, Space Dynamics Laboratory employs more than 400 dedicated scientists and engineers who provide sensor, electronic and software systems, calibration, and program lifecycle support. For more information, visit