The space telescope WISE – which stands for Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer – has begun to unearth new data about undiscovered objects in space.
The project is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. WISE deputy project scientist Amy Mainzer told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that the telescope might even find surprises close to home.
"One of the exciting things we’re going to be able to do with the WISE data set is look and see whether or not there’s a star closer to our sun than the Alpha Centauri system that we already know about." said Mainzer. "So if there’s another system out there that’s closer that we haven’t found yet, we should be able to find it with the WISE data."
Mainzer said the telescope senses infrared light. That means it can see small stars invisible to the naked eye and possibly find celestial objects we may have overlooked right in our backyard.
WISE will only work until its coolant runs out in November – but the data it collects should be useful for years.