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Planck space observatory investigates the universe.
Planck space observatory is designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, using high sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck space observatory was built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center and created as the third Medium-Sized Mission (M3) of the European Space Agency (ESA) Horizon 2000 Scientific Programme. The project-initially called COBRAS/SAMBA after its approval-is named in honour of the German scientist Max Planck (1858–1947), who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918.
The mission will complement and improve upon observations made by the NASA WMAP probe, which has measured the anisotropies at larger angular scales and lower sensitivity than Planck. Planck will provide 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.
Objectives of the Planck space observatory.
The mission has a wide variety of scientific aims, including:
Planck represents an advance over WMAP in several respects.
It is expected that most Planck measurements will be limited by how well foregrounds can be subtracted, rather than by the detector performance or length of the mission. This is particularly important for the polarization measurements. The dominant foreground depends on frequency, but examples include synchrotron radiation from the Milky Way at low frequencies, and dust at high frequencies.
Instruments on the Planck space observatory.
The spacecraft carries two instruments; the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) and the High Frequency Instrument (HFI). Both instruments can detect both the total intensity and polarization of photons, and together cover a frequency range of 30 to 857 GHz.
The LFI has three frequency bands, covering the range of 30–70 GHz. The detectors use High Electron Mobility Transistors
High Frequency Instrument
The HFI has six frequency bands, between 100 and 857 GHz. They use bolometers to detect photons. The four lower frequency bands have sensitivity to linear polarization; the two higher bands do not
Launch and orbit of the Planck space observatory.
The satellite was successfully launched at 13:12:02 on 14 May 2009, aboard an Ariane 5 ECA heavy launch vehicle, along with the Herschel Space Observatory. It is now in a very elliptical orbit (perigee: 270 km, apogee: more than 1,120,000 km), bringing it near the second Lagrangian point (L2) of the Earth-Sun system, 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth. It will later enter a Lissajous orbit of 400,000 km radius around the second Lagrangian point.
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