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New spacecraft starts taking early universe data

  1. Jun 15, 2009 #1


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    Planck craft launched May 14 is now in position and is operating. ESA says it began taking scientific data yesterday June 14.

    Going around the sun, about 1 million miles or 1.5 million km farther out than the earth is.


    Basically in position at the L2 lagrange point.


    15 June: the sorption cooler has achieved its nominal temperature. . The temperatures on the sorption cooler side of the interface is ~17.5 K. The third V-groove is at about 45 K. Record temperatures !

    14 June: the LFI front-ends have been turned on and are behaving nominally, producing science data. This was the last major payload element remaining to be turned on. Planck is now fully alive !

    11 June: the first excitement related to the payload: yesterday evening the sorption cooler unexpectedly turned itself off. The anomaly was quickly traced to a safety threshold which had been incorrectly set. It was updated and sorption cooler restarted within a few hours. The cool-down profile was hardly affected.

    9 June 2009: the big manoeuver has been completed: ~155 m/s were expended over ~46 hrs. A very slight overperformance will be compensated with a touch-up manoeuver on 17 June. In the meantime, the payload is cooling down as planned: the Sorption Cooler cold-end is following very closely the cool-down profile which was achieved during ground testing (at CSL), and the HFI focal plane is also cooling down as predicted. It is expected now to achieve 20 K at the sorption cooler cold-end sometime during the weekend.

    4 June 2009: both the sorption cooler and the LFI have been switched on, are healthy and doing what they are expected to do. Big smiles on everybody's faces ! Tomorrow: execution of the big manoeuver will start and will last around one day.

    The point for cosmology is it will take an even closer look at the earliest light than WMAP did.
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  3. Jun 16, 2009 #2


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    It's all very exciting, if Planck finds nothing unexpected it will be a huge boost for the LCDM model (we just then need to figure out why our Universe is so absurd), and if it finds something unexpected, well that's always interesting!

    Planck by itself can't rule out things that look really really similiar to LCDM but might actually be caused by very different physics, but the combination of Planck and future missions in planning (looking at other things, supernovae explosions, galaxy redshifts, galaxy clusters etc) should be able to. The next ten to twenty years will be a golden age in cosmology (not that the last ten years has been too shabby either).
  4. Jun 16, 2009 #3


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    Planck, will more importantly, further probe CMB measurements. This will be huge for cosmology. Im pretty pumped about this.
  5. Jun 16, 2009 #4
    The ESA seems to be doing some really fantastic stuff with astrophysics probes lately.
  6. Jun 16, 2009 #5


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    Yes. There's also Herschel which was launched at the same time as Planck.
    You may want to mention others.

    I think Herschel is interesting for cosmology because able to study early structure. Early stars, galaxies, in the infrared. Large mirror.


    3.5 meters. Perhaps the largest telescope mirror ever put into space. Should be able to study structures in the process of formation.
  7. Jun 18, 2009 #6


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    How exciting, i hope there is load of good data coming through.
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