NASA will reactivate the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) next month to use it to look for more near Earth asteroids.
This decision raises two thoughts.
- Why did they shut it down in the first place if it was still viable and could still do important research? If the cost wasn’t worth the benefit then, how has this equation changed now? And if the cost was worth the benefit, it then was foolish to shut it down in the first place. Though it costs money to operate these things, it is always cheaper to keep something running than to build something new. The press announcement above doesn’t really address these issues, and I wish it did.
- I wonder if this decision is somehow related to the end of the Kepler mission. With Kepler out of service, maybe NASA decided to shift the funds to run that telescope over to WISE. They do not say, but the timing is interesting. This decision could be a hint that Kepler doesn’t really have another mission it can fulfill, and thus the money to run it has already been put elsewhere.