One of my favorite space astronomy missions, WISE, has shut its eye for the last time.
This wasn't unexpected, though! The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer was meant to be a short mission, mapping the sky in far-infrared light for a year or so. It needed coolant to chill its detectors, and that ran out last year. On February 1, 2011, it took this one, final image:
[Click to infrareddenate.] That's a shot of the constellation Perseus, which is along the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy and is thus littered with stars and dust. It's very much like millions of other images WISE took in its time in space. Below are links to some of my favorite images from WISE, and you really should take a look. They are eerily beautiful, and tell us a lot about the Universe that our eyes cannot perceive.
My congratulations to all my friends at WISE on an amazingly successful mission!
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
- Shocking star is shocking. Shocking, I say!
- In galactic collisions, might makes right
- A WISE view of a small neighbor
- Warm dusty rings around a weird binary star (probably my favorite WISE pic!)
- WISE finds the coolest stars. Literally.
- The seven WISE sisters
- A WISE flower blooms in space
- The first spectacular views of the sky from WISE
- WISE uncovers its first near-Earth asteroid!