Preliminary Results from NEOWISE: An Enhancement to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for Solar System Science
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has surveyed the entire sky at four infrared wavelengths with greatly improved sensitivity and spatial resolution compared to its predecessors, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite and the Cosmic Background Explorer. NASA's Planetary Science Division has funded an enhancement to the WISE data processing system called "NEOWISE" that allows detection and archiving of moving objects found in the WISE data. NEOWISE has mined the WISE images for a wide array of small bodies in our solar system, including near-Earth objects (NEOs), Main Belt asteroids, comets, Trojans, and Centaurs. By the end of survey operations in 2011 February, NEOWISE identified over 157,000 asteroids, including more than 500 NEOs and ~120 comets. The NEOWISE data set will enable a panoply of new scientific investigations.