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Science Unit Project

  • Date Submitted: 02/07/2011 02:46 PM
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Science Unit Project
By: Danny Luo

1) Describe what you believe are the top 4 WMAP mission results and its significance (there’s more than what is discussed in class!)

The number one result of the mission is that the NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has mapped the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, the oldest light in the universe (from the big bang) and produced the first fine-resolution full-sky map of the microwave sky. Cosmic background radiation is well explained as radiation left over from an early stage in the development of the universe, and its discovery is considered a landmark test of the Big Bang model. When the first atoms formed, the universe had slight variations in density, which grew into the density variations we see today - galaxies and clusters. These density variations should have led to slight variations in the temperature of the background radiation, and these variations should still be detectable today. Scientists realized that they had an exciting possibility: by measuring the temperature variations of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation over different regions of the sky, they would have a direct measurement of the density variations in the early universe, over 10 billion years ago.

The second crucial discovery of the WMAP is that it determined the age of the universe to be 13.73 billion years old to within 1%. The value of knowing the age of the universe is not just to toss around a big number but to start putting together a scientifically verifiable story of the evolution of the universe, the earth, and life, painting a picture on a scale very hard to imagine on Earth.

The third most important mission result is the WMAP has started to sort through the possibilities of what occurred during the first trillionth of a trillionth of a second, ruling out all of the well-known textbook models for the first time. This is important because we will get a firmer and more accurate grasp of the events...

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