NASA telescope made in Utah set to finish survey

Jul 19, 2010

(AP) -- A telescope made by Utah State University's Space Dynamics Lab for NASA is on track to complete its first sky survey.

So far, the Wide-field Explorer - or WISE - project has discovered 25,000 asteroids.

The lab's WISE program manager John Elwell says the project has been exciting.

Elwell says WISE has produced 1.3 million images, including distant galaxies and brown dwarf stars, as well as 100,000 asteroids. The asteroids mainly occupy an area between Mars and . About 90 of these space rocks travel "near" Earth, meaning roughly 30 million miles from the planet.

Elwell says the first sky map was set for completion on Saturday. Over the next three months, WISE will map half of the sky again so astronomers can see what's changed.

Explore further: Astronomer confirms a new "Super-Earth" planet

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