Missions & Center Operational


Planck is a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA involvement to measure the intensity and polarization of the sky over a range of frequencies from 30 to 857 GHz (wavelengths 1 cm to 350 microns). The telescope and instruments were designed to improve upon measurements of the intensity and polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The lowest frequencies overlap with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, and the highest frequencies extend far into the sub-millimeter in order to improve upon separation between galactic foregrounds and the CMB.

Planck will help provide answers to one of the most important sets of questions asked in modern science - how did the Universe begin, how did it evolve to the state we observe today, and how will it continue to evolve in the future? Planck's objective is to analyze, with the highest accuracy ever achieved, the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang, which we observe today as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The Planck mission will collect and characterize radiation from the CMB using sensitive radio receivers operating at extremely low temperatures. These receivers will determine the black body equivalent temperature of the background radiation and will be capable of distinguishing temperature variations of about one microkelvin. These measurements will be used to produce the best ever maps of anisotropies in the CMB radiation field.

IPAC's role:

  • Generate the Early Release Compact Source Catalog (ERCSC), which will be the first public data product from the mission.
  • Serve as the US data center, with IPAC engineers and scientists are responsible for retrieving mission data from the Planck Data Processing Centers (in Paris, France and Trieste, Italy) and staging data for usage by Planck team members and ultimately for archival research.


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