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WISE, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, was launched on a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg on 14 December 2009 at 14:09 UT. The cryogenically-cooled, 661 kg satellite carries a 0.4 m diameter telescope and four detectors to perform an all-sky astronomical survey in infrared wavelengths. WISE will observe in four bands, 3.4, 4.6, 12 and 22 microns. Every 11 s images of a 47 arc-minute wide field will be made on to detector arrays of over one million pixels each.

The WISE mission lasted for ten months as planned until September 2010 when its hydrogen coolant ran out. The spacecraft was repurposed in October 2010 as the NEOWISE mission to hunt for near-earth asteroids and comets (two of four detectors work without cryogen). This initial NEO search, which consisted of a full scan of the asteroid belt, lasted until February 2011 when the spacecraft was put into hibernation. In December 2013 the NEOWISE mission was recommissioned to continue its NEO search and is still operational.

Alternate Names

  • 36119
  • Explorer 92
  • Near-Earth Object WISE
  • WISE
  • Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument_host:spacecraft.wise

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2009-12-14
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 661 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Planetary Science
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Amy K MainzerMission Principal InvestigatorUniversity of

Selected References

  • Wright, E. L., et al., The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE): Mission Description and Initial On-orbit Performance, Astron. J., 140, No. 6, 1868-1881, doi:10.1088/0004-6256/140/6/1868, Dec. 2010.
  • Mainzer, A. K., et al., NEOWISE - The WISE Near Earth Object Survey, Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Vol. 41, p. 2534, Mar. 2010.
  • Mainzer, A., et al., Preliminary Results from NEOWISE: An Enhancement to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for Solar System Science, Astrophys. J., 731, No. 1, 53-65, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/731/1/53, Apr. 2011.

Other Sources of WISE and NEOWISE Data/Information

WISE and NEOWISE projects (NASA JPL)
WISE project (U. California, Berkeley)
NEOWISE project (IPAC, Caltech)

WISE image service
NEOWISE image service

Explorers program (NASA GSFC)

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