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Published:January 16th, 2014 16:18 EST
NASA's NEOWISE Trades the Relaxation of Retirement for the Dark Skies of Space

NASA's NEOWISE Trades the Relaxation of Retirement for the Dark Skies of Space

By Ron G Anselm

"NASA Continues to watch space like an Owl watches the night sky." (Anselm, R.)

NASA has so many different entities that make-up the huge department it is so best known for and recently NASA kept is reputation up as the "watchers of space" as it reactivated out of retirement one of its main entities known as NEOWISE, a Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer or (WISE) and as a result spotted a near-Earth asteroid designated 2013 YP139. WISE was shut down in 2011 after one of its many primary mission were complete. In September 2013 it was once again reactivated and given a new primary mission which is to assist NASA in its ongoing efforts to identify and spot the many populations out there in space of potentially hazardous near Earth objects or (NEOs). It is also assisting in other potentially hazardous targets that have been or being watch by NASA currently.

The first discovery came on December 29th when WISE spotted that near Earth asteroid. The internal software spotted a moving object which was surrounded by a group of stationary stars as it patrolled Earth like a motivated sentry, scanning the sky all-around our wondrous planet.

Researchers from the University of Arizona used one of its Spacewatch telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory which is located Southwest of Tucson, Arizona to confirmed the rogue asteroid. NASA is expecting with the reactivation of NEOWISE to find hundreds of asteroids out there in space that have not yet been discovered.

Amy Mainzer, who is the the mission`s principal investigator from NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California added a little insight on this by saying, "We are delighted to get back to finding and characterizing asteroids and comets, especially those that come into Earth`s neighborhood. With our infrared sensors that detect heat, we can learn about their sizes and reflectiveness." (Mainzer, A.)

NEOWISE should proves to be a great asset in spotting any space junk, rogue asteroids, or event those little green men known as Martians " that try to sneak by our atmosphere and enter our house. No way Dude! It just ain`t going to happen, so think twice when you see those big NEOWISE " words on the side of that lunar looking spacecraft patrolling because you just ain`t a match for getting by it!

The asteroid that NEOWISE just spotted is currently about 27 million miles from us, Scientists are estimating the asteroid is about 0.4 miles in diameter and is extremely dark in color, almost like a large floating piece of black coal.

The asteroid is circling the sun in an elliptical orbit which is tilted to the plane of our solar system and is currently classified as a potentially dangerous asteroid or hazardous to us. As the asteroid orbits and bounces from one end of the solar system ti the other it is possible scientists are saying that eventually it could come or pass by us as close as 300,000 miles which equated in lunar terms is a little further that our moon is from us. The good news is you don`t have to stay up late at night with your eye glued to your backyard telescope trying to spot the asteroid before it spot you because scientists are saying if it does come that closer to us it won`t be in yours or my lifetime because it probably won`t happen within the next century.

NEOWISE has been busy in the past while spotting over 34,000 asteroids and characterized over 158,000 throughout the solar system during its past prime mission in 2010. It came out of retirement after 31 months relaxing on the white sands of Florida and basking in that warm sunshine while it was retired.

With NEOWISE and NASA at the helm protecting our planet and watching for any foreign things that try to come into our house, you and I can sleep better at night knowing one of the main assets known as NEOWISE is on watch 24/7 and should prove to be a big entity to NASA now and in the future.

                                                                                          Reference   

Recently Reactivated NASA Spacecraft Spots Its First New Asteroid, (http://www.nasa.gov/wise). Retrieved 2014.

 

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