End of Planck Satellite – Oct. 23, 2013

After successfully mapping the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation for 4.5 years, the Planck Satellite was turned off at approximately noon, UTC, on Wednesday, October 23, 2013. For details, see Last Command Sent to ESA’s Planck Space Telescope .

Chief Scientist for the Planck Mission, Dr. Jan Tauber, gives the final command.

Chief Scientist for the Planck Mission, Dr. Jan Tauber, gives the final command.

Planck Satellite in front of the final CMB map.

Planck Satellite in front of the final CMB map.

We are sad to see the end of this project, but we will be working on the data for at least another year before they are released to the public domain.

See additional links and information:

Refined cosmic recipe

Planck sees distribution of dark matter across space and back in time

Planck’s legacy – the most precise view of our universe

Gravitational lensing of the CMB seen by Planck

Planck 2013 Cosmology Release – 3/21

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Planck is by far the most sensitive satellite to date to map the early universe with sensitivity such that one year of its data is more sensitive than 1000 years of WMAP and 1,000,000 years of COBE data.

Revealing the Cosmic Microwave Background:

Planck CMB sky map:



Planck maps at each of the 9 frequencies:



Universe content pie chart:

Planck_Cosmic recipe pie chart_v5


New Planck Results released – Jan 2011

We released 25 new papers today.

Jan. 11, 2011

Trent Perrotto
Headquarters, Washington

Whitney Clavin
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-4673 �
RELEASE: 11-011


WASHINGTON — The Planck mission released a new data catalogue Tuesday
from initial maps of the entire sky. The catalogue includes thousands
of never-before-seen dusty cocoons where stars are forming and some
of the most massive clusters of galaxies ever observed. Planck is a
European Space Agency (ESA) mission with significant contributions
from NASA.

“NASA is pleased to support this important mission, and we have
eagerly awaited Planck’s first discoveries,” said Jon Morse, NASA’s
Astrophysics Division director at the agency’s headquarters in
Washington. “We look forward to continued collaboration with ESA and
more outstanding science to come.”

Planck launched in May 2009 on a mission to detect light from just a
few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, an explosive event at
the dawn of the universe approximately 13.7 billion years ago. The
spacecraft’s state-of-the-art detectors ultimately will survey the
whole sky at least four times, measuring the cosmic microwave
background, or radiation left over from the Big Bang. The data will
help scientists decipher clues about the evolution, fate and fabric
of our universe. While these cosmology results won’t be ready for
another two years or so, early observations of specific objects in
our Milky Way galaxy, as well as more distant galaxies, are being

“The data we’re releasing now are from what lies between us and the
cosmic microwave background,” said Charles Lawrence, the U.S. project
scientist for Planck at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif. We ultimately will subtract these data out to get at our
cosmic microwave background signal. But by themselves, these early
observations offer up new information about objects in our universe
— both close and far away, and everything in between,” Lawrence

Planck observes the sky at nine wavelengths of light, ranging from
infrared to radio waves. Its technology has greatly improved
sensitivity and resolution over its predecessor missions, NASA’s
Cosmic Background Explorer and Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

The result is a windfall of data on known and never-before-seen cosmic
objects. Planck has catalogued approximately 10,000 star-forming
“cold cores,” thousands of which are newly discovered. The cores are
dark and dusty nurseries where baby stars are just beginning to take

They also are some of the coldest places in the universe. Planck’s new
catalogue includes some of the coldest cores ever seen, with
temperatures as low as seven degrees above absolute zero, or minus
447 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to see the coldest gas and dust in
the Milky Way, Planck’s detectors were chilled to only 0.1 kelvins.

The new catalogue also contains some of the most massive clusters of
galaxies known, including a handful of newfound ones. The most
massive of these holds the equivalent of a million billion suns worth
of mass, making it one of the most massive galaxy clusters known.

Galaxies in our universe are bound together into these larger
clusters, forming a lumpy network across the cosmos. Scientists study
the clusters to learn more about the evolution of galaxies and dark
matter and dark energy — the exotic substances that constitute the
majority of our universe.

“Because Planck is observing the whole sky, it is giving us a
comprehensive look at how all the smaller structures of the universe
are connected to the whole,” said Jim Bartlett, a U.S. Planck team
member at JPL and the Astroparticule et Cosmologie-Universite Paris
Diderot in France.

Planck’s new catalogue also includes unique data on the pools of hot
gas that permeate roughly 14,000 smaller clusters of galaxies; the
best data yet on the cosmic infrared background, which is made up of
light from stars evolving in the early universe; and new observations
of extremely energetic galaxies spewing radio jets. The catalogue
covers about one-and-one-half sky scans.

For more information about Planck, visit:

The Map of Everything – Planck

Discover magazine names Planck all sky map as one of the top science stories of 2010.


ARCADE latest results


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A team of NASA-funded scientists, including two from UC Santa Barbara, have discovered

cosmic radio noise that is completely unexpected.

The finding came from data collected from a large helium-filled NASA balloon, big enough to fit a football field inside. The scientists discovered cosmic radio noise that is blasting six times louder than expected.

The launch of the NASA ARCADE balloon. Credit: NASA/ARCADE
Click for downloadable imageThe launch of the
NASA ARCADE balloon.

A diagram showing the inside of the ARCADE experiment. Credit: NASA/ARCADE
Click for downloadable image

A diagram showing
the inside of the
ARCADE experiment.

Jack Singal, Dale Fixsen, Philip Lubin

“It seems as though we live in a darkened room and every time we turn the lights on and explore, we find something new,” said team member Philip M. Lubin, professor of physics at UCSB. “The universe continues to amaze us and provide us with new mysteries. It is like a large puzzle that we are slowly given pieces to so that we can eventually see through the fog of our confusion.”

The findings will be presented today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif. The mission, named ARCADE, was to search the sky for heat from the first generation of stars. Instead, it found a cosmic puzzle.

A mysterious screen of extra-loud radio noise permeates the cosmos, preventing astronomers from observing heat from the first stars. The balloon-borne ARCADE instrument discovered this cosmic static on its July 2006 flight. The noise is six times louder than expected. Astronomers have no idea why.

“The universe really threw us a curve,” says team leader Alan Kogut team leader from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted.” Detailed analysis ruled out an origin of primordial stars or known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy. The source of this cosmic radio background remains a mystery.

ARCADE stands for the Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission. The instrument launched from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Tex., and flew to an altitude of 120,000 feet, where the atmosphere thins into the vacuum of space.

The problem, notes team member Dale Fixsen of the University of Maryland, is that there don’t appear to be enough radio galaxies to account for the signal ARCADE detected. “You’d have to pack them into the universe like sardines,” he said. “There wouldn’t be any space left between one galaxy and the next.”

The radio static ARCADE detected is much brighter than the combined radio emission of all of the galaxies in the universe. This suggests something new and interesting must have occurred as galaxies first formed, when the universe was less than half its current age.

Many objects in the universe emit radio waves. In 1931, American physicist Karl Jansky first detected radio static from our own Milky Way galaxy. Similar emissions from other galaxies create a background hiss of radio noise.

ARCADE is the first instrument to measure the radio sky with enough precision to detect this mysterious signal. To enhance the sensitivity of ARCADE’s radio receivers, they were immersed in more than 500 gallons of ultra-cold liquid helium. The instrument’s operating temperature was just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero.

Besides Philip Lubin, at UC Santa Barbara, and his former graduate student Jack Singal, now with Stanford University, the NASA-funded project includes scientists and engineers from several other institutions. They are: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and the University of Maryland. More than a dozen high school and undergraduate students participated in the payload’s development.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 21:44

New Deepspace Website Launched!

We are launching a newly designed website for the research group. This new site should allow both research members and the public to keep up to date with the projects being undertaken in a more coherent and easy to navigate way.