This computer drawing shows MAP leaving the Sun, Earth and Moon behind as it heads towards the L2 Lagrange point 1.5 million kilometers beyond Earth.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the MAP Science Team, NASA
Capturing the Afterglow of the Big Bang
News story originally written on June 25, 2001
There is a radiation that fills the universe, called
Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
(CMB). CMB radiation is the heat left over from the time after the Big Bang
, when the universe was really hot!
Today CMB radiation is very cool; it is only ~2.73 degrees Kelvin. That's just about 3 degrees above absolute zero, the coldest temperature possible. CMB radiation is everywhere!
The MAP (Microwave Anisotropy Probe) will be launched June 30, 2001. MAP's job is to map CMB radiation from across the universe. The map it creates will help scientists look back in time so that they might answer questions like these: What happened right
after the Big Bang? How were galaxies that we see today formed? Will the
universe expand forever or will it collapse? Does the universe have dark matter? What is the shape of the universe?
The MAP probe will make its CMB radiation map from the L2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. MAP will reach the L2 point in about 3 months after being launched from Earth. The probe will take about 18 months to finish a full-sky map of CMB radiation.
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