Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA To "Map" Big Bang Remnant To Solve Universal Mysteries

Date:
June 13, 2001
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
The Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP), scheduled for launch June 30, will journey into deep space on a voyage to explore some of the deepest mysteries of the cosmos.

The Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP), scheduled for launch June 30, will journey into deep space on a voyage to explore some of the deepest mysteries of the cosmos.

Scientists hope to determine the content, shape, history, and the ultimate fate of the universe, by constructing a full-sky picture of the oldest light. MAP is designed to capture the afterglow of the Big Bang, which comes to us from a time well before there were any stars, galaxies or quasars. Patterns imprinted within this afterglow carry with them the answers to mysteries such as: What happened during the first instant after the Big Bang? How did the Universe evolve into the complex patterns of galaxies that we see today? Will the Universe expand forever or will it collapse?

To answer these questions, MAP's measured pattern of the Big Bang's afterglow, like a fingerprint, will be compared against the unique fingerprint pattern predicted by each cosmic scenario to find the right match. "We are tremendously excited about this mission because it will help answer basic questions that people have been asking for ages," said Dr. Charles L. Bennett, Principal Investigator for the MAP mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "MAP's unprecedented accuracy and precision will allow us to determine the nature and destiny of the universe."

According to the Big Bang theory, the universe began about 14 billion years ago as an unimaginably hot and dense fog of light and exotic particles. The Universe has since continuously expanded and cooled. The whole Universe is bathed in the afterglow light from the Big Bang. The light that is now reaching us has been traveling for about 14 billion years, thus allowing us a look back through time to see the early Universe.

"The cosmic microwave light is a fossil," says Professor David T. Wilkinson, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. "Just as we can study dinosaur bones and reconstruct their lives of millions of years ago, we can probe this ancient light and reconstruct the Universe as it was about 14 billion years ago."

MAP views the infant universe by measuring the tiny temperature differences within the extraordinarily evenly dispersed microwave light, which now averages a frigid 2.73 degrees above absolute zero temperature. MAP will resolve the slight temperature fluctuations, which vary by only millionths of a degree. These temperature differences point back to density differences in the young Universe, where denser regions gave way to the vast web-like structure of galaxies that we see today.

A great deal of effort over the past 35 years has gone into measurements of the afterglow light from the Big Bang. In 1992, NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer satellite discovered tiny patterns, or "anisotropy," in its full-sky picture of the light. Balloon-borne and ground-based experiments have further advanced our knowledge. The upcoming MAP full-sky picture, to be made with unprecedented accuracy and precision, will dramatically revolutionize our view of the Universe. MAP required an extraordinary design to achieve its accurate and precise measurement capability. "Nothing has ever been built like it before," said Dr. Edward Wollack, a science team member at Goddard. "To measure the cosmic glow reliably to a part in a million, to millionths of a degree has been the grand challenge. That's like measuring the weight of a cup of sand down to the resolution of a single grain."

About a month after its launch on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL, MAP will swing past the Moon, boosting its orbit to the second Lagrange Point, or L2. This is the first time a spacecraft will be in orbit around the L2 point. The Italian-French mathematician Josef Lagrange discovered five special points in the vicinity of two orbiting masses where a third, smaller mass can orbit at a fixed distance from the larger masses. L2 is four times further than the Moon in the direction away from the Sun and requires very little fuel to maintain orbit.

After a three month journey, MAP will begin to chart the faint microwave glow from the Big Bang. It will take about 18 months to build up a full-sky picture and perform the analysis. The MAP hardware and software were produced by Goddard and Princeton. Science team members are also located at the University of Chicago, IL; the University of California, Los Angeles; Brown University, Providence, RI; and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. MAP, an Explorer mission, cost about $145 million. More information is available on the Internet at: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/gsfc/spacesci/map/map.htm

http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA To "Map" Big Bang Remnant To Solve Universal Mysteries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010613073242.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2001, June 13). NASA To "Map" Big Bang Remnant To Solve Universal Mysteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010613073242.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA To "Map" Big Bang Remnant To Solve Universal Mysteries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010613073242.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins