It was launched on December 14, 2009,and decommissioned/hibernated on February 17, 2011 when its transmitter was turned off.It performed an all-sky astronomical survey with images in 3.4, 4.6, 12 and 22 μm wavelength range bands, over 10 months using a 40 cm (16 in) diameter infrared telescope in Earth-orbit. In October 2010 its hydrogen coolant was depleted, but a four month mission extension called NEOWISE was conducted to search for small solar system bodies close to Earth's orbit (e.g. hazardous comets and asteroids) using remaining capability.
The All-Sky data were released on 14 March 2012, providing processed images, source catalogs, and raw data to the public.The first Earth Trojan asteroid was discovered using WISE data, announced on July 27, 2011. A new type of star called Y dwarfs were discovered with WISE, announced August 23, 2011, as well as the third closest star system, WISE 1049-5319.