The image on the left shows an infrared view of the center of our Milky Way galaxy as seen by the 1983 Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), which surveyed the whole sky with only 62 pixels. The image on the right shows an infrared view similar to what NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), will see. Thanks to improvements in infrared detector technology, WISE has four million pixels.
The picture on the right was taken by the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) in the late 1990s. MSX only imaged a portion of the sky. WISE will map the entire sky with a similar resolution and sensitivity.
IRAS was a joint project between the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. MSX was a project of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission's principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu.