Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) project is designed to close the gap between our current technical capability and our knowledge of the near-infrared sky. In addition to providing a context for the interpretation of results obtained at infrared and other wavelengths, 2MASS is providing direct answers to immediate questions on the large-scale structure of the Milky Way and the Local Universe. The optimal use of the next generation of infrared space missions, such as HST/NICMOS, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), and the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), as well as powerful ground-based facilities, such as Keck I, Keck II, and Gemini, require a new census with vastly improved sensitivity and astrometric accuracy than that previously available.

To achieve these goals, 2MASS has uniformly scanned the entire sky in three near-infrared bands to detect and characterize point sources brighter than about 1 mJy in each band, with signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) greater than 10, using a pixel size of 2.0". This has achieved an 80,000-fold improvement in sensitivity relative to earlier surveys.
If you do check this out, which I recommend, keep in mind that the colors are for the convenience of a species that can't see much of the electro-magnetic spectrum.

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