A NASA spacecraft launched in March 1999 to study infrared emissions from starburst galaxies, where rapid star formation occurs, and protogalaxies, which are infant galaxies. WIRE was one of the first missions of NASA's Origins Program and part of its Small Explorer Program. The original four-month mission was aborted because an electronics box was incorrectly designed and ejected the cover of its telescope early, causing frozen hydrogen (used to cool infrared detectors) to turn into gas when exposed to the Sun. NASA is now using WIRE's star tracker for long-term monitoring of bright stars to probe their structure and support the agency's planet-finding programme.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.