Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Introducing the “coolest” spacecraft in the Universe UK involvement in ESA’s Planck mission

12.02.2007
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planck mission, which will study the conditions present in our Universe shortly after the Big Bang, is reaching an important milestone with the integration of instruments into the satellite at Alcatel Alenia Space in Cannes, France.

Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive Officer of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), who fund the UK involvement in the mission, said, “Planck presents a tremendous opportunity to further our knowledge and understanding of the parameters that control the functioning of our Universe. The integration of the instruments into the spacecraft is a significant milestone that marks a major step towards launch next year.”

Planck will travel back to the dawn of time to investigate with the highest precision ever the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang some 14 billion years ago. Planck will be sensitive to temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree and will map the full sky in nine wavelengths. The tiny differences in the CMB are like the marks in a fossil, revealing details about the organism they come from – in this case, the physical processes at the beginning of the Universe.

The mission will address a number of fundamental questions, such as the initial conditions for the evolution of our Universe’s structure, the nature and amount of dark matter and the nature of dark energy and the expansion of the Universe itself.

Planck involves an international collaboration of scientists and industrialists from around the World. UK scientists from the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, Imperial College London, University of Manchester, Jodrell Bank and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have key roles – with involvement in the planning of the mission as well as building hardware for the sensitive instruments onboard, the data analysis and the science operations after launch.

Professor George Efstathiou, a member of the Planck science team and co-investigator on the High Frequency instrument (HFI) on Planck, from the University of Cambridge said, “The accuracy of the instruments on board Planck will allow us to measure the temperature variations across the cosmic microwave background with much better sensitivity than ever before providing astronomers with an unprecedented view of our Universe when it was extremely young – just 300,000 years old.”

Planck carries a 1.5 metre diameter telescope that feeds the microwave radiation to two instruments which will image the sky at different frequencies:- the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) consisting of an array of ultra sensitive radiometers and the High Frequency Instrument (HFI), an array of highly sensitive microwave detectors known as bolometers.

The conditions that Planck will be studying present real challenges when it comes to the technological requirements of the instruments onboard. In order to achieve its science objectives, Planck’s detectors have to operate at very low and stable temperatures. The spacecraft is equipped with a sophisticated cryogenic cooling system which cools the instruments to levels close to absolute zero (-273.15 degrees C), ranging from -253 degrees Celsius to only a tenth of a degree above absolute zero.

Dr Tom Bradshaw from CCLRC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory works on the cooling system developed for the High Frequency Instrument. He comments, “Planck presents real technological challenges with regard to the temperatures that the instruments need to operate at. The spacecraft has a layered cooling system, akin to a Russian doll, which keeps the instruments cooled so that their own heat does not interfere with the science measurements.”

After integration which is due to be completed by the end of February, Planck will move to Liege in Belgium to undergo a series of tests to measure the performance of the instruments at extreme temperatures. Planck is scheduled to be launched on 31st July 2008 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana. It will be launched in a dual configuration with Herschel, ESA’s mission to study the formation of galaxies, stars and planetary systems in the infrared. Once operational both missions will study different aspects of the “cold” cosmos providing complimentary information on previously unknown regions of the Universe.

Planck will build on the heritage of previous NASA CMB missions – Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and Wilkinson Map Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) - the latter of which is still operating. Professor George Smoot, lead scientist for COBE, who was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on cosmic microwave background, is a co-investigator on Planck.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light
23.10.2017 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons
23.10.2017 | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>