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April 17, 2011

WISE Delivers Millions of Galaxies, Stars, Asteroids

Finally, NASA has created a compilation of data, accessible to the public, of the millions of galaxies, stars and asteroids that have been discovered. This is the first time that a large amount of date collected by WISE (NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) is being open to the public and not just the scientists that are affiliated with the project. There is a flood of photos released, taken by the prolific sky-mapping telescope that ended its mission this year in February. So, there will be thousands of astronomers and citizens at home, sifting through large amounts of data. Launched on  Dec 14  2009, WISE scanned the skies from the polar orbit and collected more than 2.7 million images. The  discoveries included 20 comets, more than 33,000 asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, and 133 near-Earth objects, those asteroids and comets with orbits that come within 28 million miles of Earth's path around the sun.

Researchers are expecting that the broadened exposure of the photos will enable a new wave of scientific discoveries. The complete survey along with processed data will be available in Spring 2012.

I think that giving access to the public is both dangerous and revolutionary but will in any case definitely spark a lot of attention. Citizens will look to disprove the existence of certain comets or objects in space etc. But in any case, I think that the best way that astronomers can use this database is to focus their research on the near earth objects, which have a greater chance of collision with the Earth and as a result, prepare mitigation actions.

More at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110414165126.htm

Posted by aarthi at April 17, 2011 09:35 PM


I also believe that making this information public will bring about a lot of good media attention for astronomy. I think there is a fairly large percentage of people who are skeptical about investing so many resources (both human capital and money) into studying space and the possibility for extra-terrestrial life. Opening the collected data up to the public will be beneficial as now we can see where our money is going, and that identifying both near-Earth objects that could contain life and asteroids and comets that could potentially be dangerous for life on Earth is important for society.

Posted by: sekoch at April 18, 2011 01:20 PM

I think that this is really interesting, and definitely a positive thing. Before taking this class I knew a lot of money was spent on exploring our solar system and the rest of the universe, but I was not aware of what that money was being used for, an all of the important things that were being found. I believe that it is good to make this information available to the public, both for scientific purposes, and for just to feed the curiosity and interest of society.

Posted by: emschnei at April 18, 2011 04:30 PM

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