This image of the asteroid Ida was taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1993 en route to the planet Jupiter.
The NEOWISE project is the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) mission. Funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division, NEOWISE harvests asteroids and comets from the WISE images and provides an archive for searching the WISE data for solar system scientists.
The mission began its life as WISE for its first eight months of survey operations until the frozen hydrogen cooling the telescope was depleted. The mission continued as NEOWISE for an additional four months, finishing up its survey of the inner solar system.
The NEOWISE project was responsible for archiving the millions of individual images collected by the WISE telescope. To date, the NEOWISE team has delivered infrared detections of more than 158,000 minor planets to the scientific community, including more than 34,000 new discoveries.
NEOWISE data have been used to set limits on the numbers, orbits, sizes, and probable compositions of asteroids throughout our solar system, and the mission discovered the first known Earth Trojan asteroid.
When acknowledging the NEOWISE project, please cite Mainzer et al. 2011 ApJ 731, 53
The team is scheduled to release the final processed version of the images and catalog from the Post-Cryogenic Survey Phase at the end of May, 2013.
The NEOWISE project is currently reprocessing all survey data to extend the search for asteroids and comets to fainter limits. We expect that this will result in delivery of many more detections of minor planets at infrared wavelengths.
The team is also chartered to search for evidence of cometary activity as well as to generate a final catalog of asteroid and comet physical properties for all known minor planets that can be identified in the NEOWISE data to NASA's Planetary Data System.
The WISE spacecraft is currently in hibernation mode. Its solar panels are still pointed at the Sun, and during a brief contact in November 2012, it was in good health.
In December 2012, NASA's Human Exploration Operations Division solicited a proposal from the NEOWISE team to restart the spacecraft and resume the search for potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. Although the solid hydrogen is gone, the mission could still operate at its two shortest infrared wavelengths, returning valuable data on the numbers, orbits, sizes, and compositions of asteroids and comets.
The proposal to NASA was submitted on January 31, 2013.