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Cosmic Origins Projects

Emeritus Missions

GALEX Observatory
GALEX Observatory
Launch date: 28 April 2003
Stopped operations: 28 June 2013

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) is an orbiting space telescope that observes galaxies in ultraviolet light. Since its launch in 2003, the mission has surveyed tens of thousands of galaxies in ultraviolet light across nine billion years of time. The mission's science goals include mapping the history of star formation in the universe and performing ultraviolet all-sky imaging and ultraviolet wide-area spectroscopic surveys.

Final observations will be made public in 2014.

Herschel Space Observatory
Herschel Space Observatory
Launch Date: 14 May 2009
Stopped operations: 17 June 2013

The Herschel Space Observatory is a space-based telescope that is studying the light of the Universe in the far-infrared and submillimeter portions of the spectrum. It is revealing new information about the earliest, most distant stars and galaxies, as well as those closer to home in space and time. It is also taking a unique look at our own Solar System.

Much of the Universe consists of gas and dust that is far too cold to radiate in visible light or at shorter wavelengths such as x-rays. However, even at temperatures well below the most frigid spot on Earth, they do radiate at far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths.

Post operations data refinement will continue until 2017.

Widefield Infrared Survey
Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer
Launch Date: 14 December 2009
Stopped operations: 17 February 2011

WISE spent over a year imaging the entire sky at each of four wavelengths that ranged from 5 to 35 times longer than the longest waves that the human eye can see. During the course of the mission, WISE took millions of infrared images. Using its tremendous coverage, WISE is being employed to find the coldest brown dwarf stars, to find the most luminous galaxies in the universe, and to catalog the hundreds of millions of infrared-bright stars, galaxies, dust clouds, and more. Besides surveying the infrared sky, WISE also had a second purpose. The NEOWISE Survey used the infrared telescope to survey the small bodies, asteroids, and comets in our solar system.

A complete reprocessing of the WISE data set, AllWISE, will be released in 2013.

NASA logo
  • NASA Official: Phil Newman
  • Web Curator: Pat Tyler
Goddard Space Flight Center