NASA is bringing an infrared space telescope out of retirement to join the hunt for asteroids.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE telescope, has been mothballed for 2.5 years. It spent 13 months making an all-sky map of comets, asteroids, stars and other objects that emit relatively cool, infrared light, compared to visible wavelengths.
As part of that survey, WISE hunted for asteroids in orbits that pass relatively close to Earth.
PHOTOS: NASA's Asteroid Capture Mission
NASA now plans to bring WISE out of hibernation for a three-year stint hunting asteroids that may be on a collision course with Earth.
The U.S. space agency also is looking for non-threatening asteroids to serve as targets for a robotic mission that would relocate all or part of an asteroid into a safe, stable orbit around the moon.
In addition to demonstrating technologies that may one day be needed to redirect a potentially threatening asteroids, the mission, which is in the planning stages, would give NASA's human space flight program a destination for an early test flight of its deep-space Orion capsule.