NASA has published the first images from its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) which has been scanning the skies since early January.

WISE has worked superbly, said the agency's Edward Weiler in a statement.

We've got a candy store of images coming down from space. Everyone has their favorite flavors, and we've got them all, he added.

One the purposes behind the mission, is to try to locate dozens of new comets, including some that ride along in orbits that take them somewhat close to Earth's path around the sun, NASA said.

The images include a comet and a star factory that is 20,000 light years away in our Milky Way galaxy.

Below is an image of our nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda spiral galaxy. It was captured by using the spacecraft's longest-wavelength infrared detectors, with 12-micron light shown here as orange, and 22-micron light as red.

Andromeda

Andromeda galaxy (Credit: NASA)

Below is the Andromeda galaxy in blue. The blue colors represent mature stars, and yellow and red highlight dust heated by new, giant stars.

Andromeda

Andromeda galaxy (Credit: NASA)

All these pictures tell a story about our dusty origins and destiny, said Peter Eisenhardt, WISE project director at NASA in California, according to a statement.

WISE sees dusty comets and rocky asteroids tracing the formation and evolution of our solar system. We can map thousands of forming and dying solar systems across our entire galaxy.

We can see patterns of star formation across other galaxies, and waves of star-bursting galaxies in clusters millions of light years away, he added.

Below is the comet Siding Spring (Click to view full image and details here) with its tail stretching about 10 million miles.

comet

comet Siding Spring (Credit: NASA)