ESA retires `Big Bang radiation absorbing` Planck space telescope
London: ESA`s Planck space telescope has been switched off after nearly 4.5 years soaking up the relic radiation from the Big Bang and studying the evolution of stars and galaxies throughout the history of the Universe.
The final command to the Planck satellite was sent by mission controllers at ESA`s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, thus marking the end of operations for ESA`s `time machine`.
Planck, which was launched in 2009, was designed to tease out the faintest relic radiation from the Big Bang- the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The CMB preserves a picture of the Universe as it was about 380 000 years after the Big Bang, and provides details of the initial conditions that led to the Universe we live in today.
"Planck has provided us with more insight into the evolution of the Universe than any mission has before. Planck`s picture of the CMB is the most accurate `baby photo` of the Universe yet, but the wealth of data still being scrutinised by our cosmologists will provide us with even more details," Alvaro Gimenez, ESA`s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said.
The first detailed image of the faint signal from the CMB from Planck was released earlier this year, after foreground emission from our own Milky Way Galaxy as well as all other galaxies had been removed.
The 2013 data release provided revised values for the relative proportions of the ingredients of the Universe, namely normal matter that makes up stars and galaxies, dark matter, which has thus far only been detected indirectly by its gravitational influence, and dark energy, a mysterious force thought to be responsible for accelerating the expansion of the Universe.
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