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Having run out hydrogen coolant for its infrared cameras and with only a few more months of usable life, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has shifted its work from deep space astronomy to completing its last sweep of the solar system in a search for asteroids and comets.
Update: At a press conference going on right now at the 42nd meeting of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences, WISE scientists note that the mission extension will continue for one month. If that month is successful, the mission will continue until the end of January 2011 in order to complete its solar system sweep. After this the spacecraft will be put in hibernation, available for future work.
Summary of solar system results so far:
- 33,576 asteroids discovered of which 120 were Near Earth Asteroids.
- 19 new comets.