The Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft will emerge from its two-year hibernation next month to resume its near-Earth object NEOWISE asteroid hunting mission.
Launched in December 2009, Ball Aerospace built the WISE BCP-300 spacecraft bus under contract to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During its original 10-month operation, the WISE cryogenic mission collected a vast storehouse of information with far greater sensitivity than previous missions. The WISE satellite amassed more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, capturing everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies.
After completing WISE's primary science mission, WISE began a four-month NEOWISE mission with the primary purpose of hunting for more asteroids and comets. The mission's discoveries of previously unknown objects include 21 comets, more than 34,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 135 near-Earth objects.
The renewed NEOWISE mission will again focus on detecting near-Earth objects that may be of importance for identification and detection of asteroids for future NASA missions.
"The multiple repurposing of WISE is proving to be much like Ball's Deep Impact spacecraft," said Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager for Ball's Civil Space & Technology business unit. "You expect a satellite to complete its initial mission, and then when it remains healthy it makes sense to further utilize the spacecraft for additional research and discovery."
WISE observations have led to numerous discoveries, including the elusive, coolest class of stars, the first known "Trojan" asteroid to share the same orbital path around the sun as Earth, and locations of supermassive black holes throughout the universe called blazars.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions for national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more information, visit www.ballaerospace.com.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, food and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 15,000 people worldwide and reported 2012 sales of more than $8.7 billion. For more information, visit www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.