Initial performance of the NEOWISE reactivation mission

A. Mainzer, J. Bauer, R. M. Cutri, T. Grav, J. Masiero, R. Beck, P. Clarkson, T. Conrow, J. Dailey, P. Eisenhardt, B. Fabinsky, S. Fajardo-Acosta, J. Fowler, C. Gelino, C. Grillmair, I. Heinrichsen, M. Kendall, J. Davy Kirkpatrick, F. Liu, F. MasciH. McCallon, C. R. Nugent, M. Papin, E. Rice, D. Royer, T. Ryan, P. Sevilla, S. Sonnett, R. Stevenson, D. B. Thompson, S. Wheelock, D. Wiemer, M. Wittman, E. Wright, L. Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations

Abstract

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft has been brought out of hibernation and has resumed surveying the sky at 3.4 and 4.6 μm. The scientific objectives of the NEOWISE reactivation mission are to detect, track, and characterize near-Earth asteroids and comets. The search for minor planets resumed on 2013 December 23, and the first new near-Earth object (NEO) was discovered 6 days later. As an infrared survey, NEOWISE detects asteroids based on their thermal emission and is equally sensitive to high and low albedo objects; consequently, NEOWISE-discovered NEOs tend to be large and dark. Over the course of its three-year mission, NEOWISE will determine radiometrically derived diameters and albedos for 2000 NEOs and tens of thousands of Main Belt asteroids. The 32 months of hibernation have had no significant effect on the mission's performance. Image quality, sensitivity, photometric and astrometric accuracy, completeness, and the rate of minor planet detections are all essentially unchanged from the prime mission's post-cryogenic phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume792
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • asteroids: general
  • comets: general
  • infrared: general
  • minor planets
  • space vehicles
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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