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COBE

By Marty McDowell/NASA

On November 18, 1989, the United States launched COBE or the Cosmic Background Explorer. The COBE satellite was developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe, to the limits set by our astrophysical environment.

COBE carried three instruments, a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation with a precise blackbody, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation precisely, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation. The cosmic microwave background spectrum was measured with a precision of 0.005%; the results confirmed the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.

NASA

The plane of the Milky Way Galaxy lies horizontally across the middle of the image with the Galactic center at the center. The image is dominated by the thermal emission from interstellar dust in the Milky Way. The wispy-looking dust features are called "infrared cirrus." The structured, warmer emission from interplanetary dust, shown in blue, is also prominent. The image shows a number of well-known dusty regions in the Milky Way, such as the Orion molecular clouds (below the plane, far right) which are active "stellar nurseries" in our Galaxy.

Image courtesy of NASA.

 

Source: NASA.

 

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Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.

 

SPACE SPECS

Courtesy of NASA

Launched: Nov, 18, 1989

Destination: Earth orbit

Arrival: N/A

Return: N/A

Nation: U.S.

Mission: Detect background radiation.


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