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In 2010, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission observed the entire sky twice. Astronomers used these data to point out the X-shaped structure in the bulge of the Milky Way, contained in the small circle at center, as well as the inset image. The circled central portion covers roughly the area of sky that would be blocked by a basketball when held out at arm's length.
Dustin Lang, an astronomer at the Dunlap Institute of the University of Toronto, used these data to make this map, which shows the full 360-degree panorama of the sky as seen by WISE. Lang collaborated with Melissa Ness, postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany,
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed and operated WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011, after it scanned the entire sky twice, completing its main objectives. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. The 2MASS mission was a joint effort between the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and JPL. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. WISE, NEOWISE and 2MASS data are archived at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, or IPAC, at Caltech.
More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise.