NPR logo NASA: The Nerdiest Paparazzi

Daily Picture Show

NASA: The Nerdiest Paparazzi

When NASA scientist Dr. Peter Eisenhardt said, "There are brown dwarfs all around us," he wasn't making a paranoid reference to Snow White. He was talking about a type of star that, until very recently, is often too faint to see. Brown dwarfs are also called "failed stars" because they lack the energy to ignite like normal stars during the birth process. And, much like the paparazzi, NASA can't get enough of failed stars. That's why they built the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, affectionately called WISE.

WISE, which launched last year, just completed the first-ever comprehensive infrared survey of the sky. In other words, its photographic mission has been both comprehensive and ground-breaking: With more than 1.3 million scans, it has surveyed the entire sky and illuminated galaxies and stars that have never been seen before. And it plans to keep going, without blinking, until its coolant runs out. In that sense, WISE puts Ron Gallela to shame.

Learn (and see!) more about the mission on NASA's site.

NPR thanks our sponsors