NASA’s wide-field infrared survey explorer (WISE) spacecraft has successfully ejected its protective cover to begin infrared survey of the sky.

WISE will perform the most detailed infrared survey of the entire sky to collect images of asteroids, stars and galaxies that are too cool or dusty to be seen with visible light.

The telescope will survey the sky one-and-a-half times in nine months, completing its primary mission when the coolant it needs to see infrared light evaporates away.

The cover had been fitted atop the thermos-shaped bottle that chilled the instrument containing the 16in telescope and four infrared detector arrays and protected the instrument from stray sunlight and extra heat during launch.

The cover was opened by firing pyrotechnic devices that released nuts holding it in place and springs which pushed it away from the spacecraft.

WISE will take an image every 11 seconds collecting about 7,500 images a day.

Nasa WISE mission project scientist Peter Eisenhardt said that now they can synch WISE up to the scan mirror and get on with the business of exploring the infrared universe.

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