Some say the science instrument on NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission resembles the Star Wars robot R2-D2. The instrument is enclosed in a solid-hydrogen cryostat, which cools the WISE telescope and detectors.
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A Robot or a Science Instrument?

This image shows the bottle-like tank that houses the science instrument on NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission (some say it resembles the Star Wars robot R2-D2). This tank, called a cryostat, contains frozen hydrogen that chills the instrument.

JPL manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The mission's principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was 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. More information is online at

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Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)




Full-Res TIFF:
PIA12316.tif (24 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA12316.jpg (0.73 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Dynamics Lab