Friday, 22 March 2013

Planck spacecraft

Planck is a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA) and designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, at a high sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck was built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center by Thales Alenia Space and created as the third Medium-Sized Mission (M3) of the European Space Agency's Horizon 2000 Scientific Programme. The project, initially called COBRAS/SAMBA, is named in honour of the German physicist Max Planck (1858–1947), who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
Planck was launched in May 2009, reaching the Earth/Sun's L2 point in July, and by February 2010 had successfully started a second all-sky survey. On 21 March 2013, the mission's first all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background was released. (See below.)
The mission complements and improves upon observations made by the NASA Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which has measured the anisotropies at larger angular scales and lower sensitivity than Planck. Planck provides a major source of information relevant to several cosmological and astrophysical issues, such as testing theories of the early universe and the origin of cosmic structure.

Comparison of CMB results from COBE, WMAP and Planck

Planck started its First All-Sky Survey on 13 August 2009. In September 2009, the European Space Agency announced the preliminary results from the Planck First Light Survey, which was performed to demonstrate the stability of the instruments and the ability to calibrate them over long periods. The results indicated that the data quality is excellent.

-On 15 January 2010 the mission was extended by 12 months, with observation continuing until at least the end of 2011. After the successful conclusion of the First Survey, the spacecraft started its Second All Sky Survey on 14 February 2010, with more than 95% of the sky observed already and 100% sky coverage being expected by mid-June 2010.
Some planned pointing list data from 2009 have been released publicly, along with a video visualization of the surveyed sky.

-On 17 March 2010 the first Planck photos were published, showing dust concentration within 500 light years from the Sun.

-On 5 July 2010, the Planck mission delivered its first all-sky image.
The first public scientific result of Planck is the Early-Release Compact-Source Catalogue, released in January 2011 during a conference in Paris.

2013 data release

-On 21 March 2013, the European-led research team behind the Planck cosmology probe released the mission's first all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background. The map suggests the universe is slightly older than thought. According to the map, subtle fluctuations in temperature were imprinted on the deep sky when the cosmos was about 370,000 years old. The imprint reflects ripples that arose as early, in the existence of the universe, as the first nonillionth (10-30) of a second. Apparently, these ripples gave rise to the present vast cosmic web of galaxy clusters and dark matter. The team estimates the universe to be 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years old, containing 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy.[16] Also, the Hubble constant was measured to be 67.80 ± 0.77 (km/s)/Mpc

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