The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite aboard lifts off from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA WISE, which stands for Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, launched Monday morning at 9:09 a.m. EST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The 1,485-pound WISE spacecraft will circle Earth over the poles, in order to scan the entire sky in infrared light with a sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before, NASA said.

The $320 million WISE telescope is expected to scan the sky 1 1/2 times in nine months before completing its mission. W

ISE will operate at an altitude of 326 miles, where over a six month period; it will pass over the poles 15 times a day and snap every 11 seconds through its 40-cm (16-inch) telescope. It aims to capture 1,500,000 images which will offer a cosmic clearinghouse of hundreds of millions of objects that will be catalogued and provide a vast storehouse of knowledge about the solar system, the Milky Way, and the universe.

NASA's summary explains that the mission will uncover objects never seen before, including brown dwarfs, ultraluminous infrared galaxies and disks of planetary debris around young stars.

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