In case you don’t know, Planck, from the European Space Agency, is a satellite designed to observe the background radio radiation, successor to WMAP. The background radiation is composed of very unenergetic photons that were released 400,000 years after Big Bang, when temperature was low enough for atoms to form and release the energy that particles used to absorb. The photons have been travelling over 13 billions of years to reach our eyes.
What is so important about it, you may ask? Well, WMAP has helped to shape the views of modern cosmology and the validity of the Big Bang, determine the age of the universe, determine the composition of the universe, and more. Planck is going to be even more accurate, and will allow them to pinpoint even a more accurate model of the universe.
Here is the press release on its first observation, which also has a cool animation of what Planck will do. Also, I found a blog of an astrophysicist who seems to be involved in this. You might be interested in what they are doing. Plus, there is a release of the background radiation imposed on the Milky Way galaxy. Now, I know the radiation part looks all blotchy, chaotic, and somewhat ugly. What seems disorder, though, can tell us a lot of things, and if you click on the picture, iw:
(hat tip: Blogging the Planck Mission)