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 (Updated!)
News story originally written on July 10, 2001
Some of the best news of the week is that the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) was
launched successfully last Saturday! Liftoff on its Delta II rocket occurred on time on June 30, 2001. The MAP teams says they couldn't have asked for a better start to the mission!
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!
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. The probe will take about 18 months to finish a full-sky map of CMB radiation.
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