Our final science Friday post for this week is a story about rebirth, about breathing new life into a hibernating spacecraft to help hunt for near Earth asteroids. Today, NASA announced that it would be bringing the WISE Space Telescope back online and tasking it with an entirely new mission.
Before being mothballed for 2.5 years, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Telescope, aka WISE, spent 13 months composing a map of the entire sky that highlighted comets, asteroids, stars, and other objects that emit infrared light. As an additional feature to the survey, WISE also hunted asteroids that could pass relatively close to Earth at some point in the future.
Today's announcement states that NASA will bring WISE out of mothballs for a three-year mission, during which it will hunt for asteroids that may be on a collision course with the earth. Additionally, NASA is hoping to find a few non-threatening asteroids that would allow the space agency to use them as targets for a robotic mission that would relocate an asteroid into a safe and stable orbit around the moon.