Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
Bennett, Charles L. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Last reviewed:August 2020
- Control of systematic measurement errors
- Spacecraft design
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) was a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space mission, launched in August 2001. It continually surveyed the full sky for 9 years, mapping out tiny differences in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is a remnant fossil from the hot and dense epoch of the early universe. The CMB permeates the universe and is seen today with an average temperature of 2.725 kelvins. Tiny variations about this average temperature were first discovered by NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission. WMAP followed up on the COBE results by characterizing the detailed statistical nature of the CMB temperature variations (called anisotropy), revealing a wealth of detail about the global properties of the universe, including its age, contents, and history.
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