NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is hard at work on its task of mapping the entire sky with infrared light. Why? Planet-killing asteroids, that’s why! They’re out there, and I’m terrified! And guess what? WISE’s already brought home the bacon:
That red dot is WISE’s first find – a .6-mile asteroid NASA’s designated 2010 AB78. Will it collide with the planet, killing billions? Thankfully, no – due to its tilted orbit, it won’t come near earth for centuries – but thanks to the WISE we can now keep an eye on it.
How does WISE work? Well, I could tell you about it’s onboard telescope with a 16-inch aperture, a telescope designed to continuously sweep the sky at four infrared wavelengths as it spins about the earth. I could tell you about its four detector arrays, capible of scanning ONE MILLION PIXELS each.
I could tell you all that, but I’d just be regurgitating nonsense words, as I have no idea what any of that means. Let me put this in words even I can understand: big telescope help save planet! Earthlings grateful! Asteroids bad!