Now You See What WISE Sees
A star, a star, burning in the night; it’s the picture of WISE’s first light. It’s the picture from WISE’s first light.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, launched on December 14, 2009, has doffed its lens cap and snapped its first image—of a dim red star called V482 Carina that would be just barely visible to the naked eye. In the background are some 3,000 other stars in a field of view about three times the area of the full moon.
For the next nine months, WISE will be taking a picture once every 11 seconds, mapping the entire infrared sky one and a half times and revealing everything from dark asteroids nearby to dusty galaxies 10 billion light-years away. The science team includes Assistant Professor of Astronomy
Andrew Blain, Members of the Professional Staff Roc Cutri, Thomas Jarrett, J. Davy Kirkpatrick, and Deborah Padgett (PhD ’92), plus Peter Eisenhardt, T. Nick Gautier, Amy Mainzer (MS ’01), and Michael Ressler of JPL. Caltech’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center is compiling the data.
JPL is managing the mission; the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace, and the instrument by Utah State University. —DS