Artist's concept of Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.
A new NASA mission will scan the entire sky in infrared light in search of nearby cool stars, planetary construction zones and the brightest galaxies in the universe.
Called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the mission has been approved to proceed into the preliminary design phase as the next in NASA's Medium-class Explorer program of lower cost, highly focused, rapid-development scientific spacecraft. It is scheduled to launch no earlier than Dec. 7, 2009.
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 http://wise.astro.ucla.edu.