NASA sky-mapping telescope runs out of coolant

NASA's sky-mapping spacecraft has embarked on a new phase in its mission after running out of coolant designed to chill its heat-sensitive instruments.

The space agency said Monday two of the telescope's detectors can still function at warmer temperatures and will continue to search for near-Earth asteroids and comets.

Since launching in 2009, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has completed its primary mission to map the entire sky.

WISE has discovered more than 33,500 new asteroids, 19 comets and numerous brown dwarfs.

The extended survey is expected to last one to four months.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.