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WISE spacecraft launched to survey Universe

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WISE spacecraft launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Image credit: United Launch Alliance.

CALIFORNIA (BNS): NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) successfully blasted off from the space centre here on Monday and headed towards space to map the infinite Universe in infrared light.

WISE spacecraft lifted off at 09:09 AM EST (06:09 IST) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

"All systems in the spacecraft are working properly and we are on our way to see the entire infrared sky in a much better way," said William Irace, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), according to a NASA news report.

WISE, after reaching the high atmosphere, separated automatically from the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket and re-oriented with its solar panel for generating its own power. NASA engineers are tracking the craft's movements via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

Currently, WISE is "stable, cold" and communicating with its JPL mission controllers.

According to Ned Wright of UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), the mission's principal investigator, "WISE needs to be colder than the objects it's observing. Because the instrument sees the infrared, or heat, therefore it must be kept at chilly temperatures."

WISE will spend rest of the nine months, after the checkout, scanning the cosmos in infrared light. It will thus take millions of pictures of near-Earth objects, stars, asteroids, galaxies and many more celestial wonders.

The explorer will also provide size and composition information of all these objects which will help scientists learn more about the mysteries hidden behind the vast Universe.

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