WISE Finds New Asteroids

New Spacecraft Discovers Dozens of Asteroids … Every Day – [space.com]

Dozens of asteroids that have been lurking undetected in our solar system are being discovered every day by NASA’s newest space telescope, scientists say.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope was designed to search for “dark” objects in space, such as brown dwarf stars, vast dust clouds, and yes, asteroids.

Many of the asteroids WISE is spotting are darker asteroids that were likely missed by past surveys conducted by visible light telescopes.

An Avalanche of Dark Asteroids – [nasa.gov]

Visible-light telescopes conducting past asteroid surveys may have missed a large population of darker asteroids that WISE is now flushing out of hiding. Most of the asteroids WISE is finding are in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but a fraction of them are different—they’re the kind of Earth-approaching asteroids that send shivers all the way down a Brontosaurus’ spine.

“WISE has only been in orbit for about three months, but we’ve already found a handful of asteroids classified as ‘potentially hazardous,’ including one seen in 1996 but lost until re-observed by WISE. To be named ‘potentially hazardous,’ an asteroid has to pass within about 5 million miles of Earth’s orbit. One of our discoveries will cross Earth’s orbit less than 700,000 miles away.”

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