Telescope built at Space Dynamics lab maps the cosmos

A scientist who helped build a powerful space telescope at the Space Dynamics Lab spoke of the project’s impact in a speech at the Logan Tabernacle on March 9. “Keep your chair backs in the upright position because we are ready to take off,” said Doug Thompson, former mayor of Logan, as he introduced John D. Elwell, the project manager for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope. Elwell explained the specifics of the WISE infrared telescope that he worked on at USU’s SDL in Logan. Elwell said it was launched at 6 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2009, and scientists received the first light image from it 15 days later. Because of its wide-field capability, WISE covers more of the sky than any of its predecessors, including the Hubble telescope, he said, explaining that wide-field means the telescope takes broader pictures. WISE completed its mission 13 months after its launch, having covered the sky completely two times, Elwell said. The telescope took about six months to complete each survey of the sky. Elwell said WISE is basically a telescope with cameras, and “it has four cameras and each is pointing at the same target in space but with four different colors.” Those colors combined create the infrared effect, Elwell said, adding that the telescope is special because of those infrared capabilities.

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