WMAP – Satellite
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) is a NASA Explorer mission that launched June 2001 to make fundamental measurements of cosmology — the study of the properties of our universe as a whole. WMAP has been stunningly successful, producing our new Standard Model of Cosmology. WMAP continues to collect high quality scientific data.
WMAP’s Top Ten
1.- NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has mapped the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation (the oldest light in the universe) and produced the first fine-resolution (0.2 degree) full-sky map of the microwave sky
2.- WMAP definitively determined the age of the universe to be 13.73 billion years old to within 1% (0.12 billion years) –as recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records!
3.- WMAP nailed down the curvature of space to within 1% of “flat” Euclidean, improving on the precision of previous award-winning measurements by over an order of magnitude
4.- The CMB became the “premier baryometer” of the universe with WMAP’s precision determination that ordinary atoms (also called baryons) make up only 4.6% of the universe (to within 0.1%)
5.- WMAP’s complete census of the universe finds that dark matter (not made up of atoms) make up 23.3% (to within 1.3%)
6.- WMAP’s accuracy and precision determined that dark energy makes up 72.1% of the universe (to within 1.5%), causing the expansion rate of the universe to speed up. – “Lingering doubts about the existence of dark energy and the composition of the universe dissolved when the WMAP satellite took the most detailed picture ever of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).” – Science Magazine 2003, “Breakthrough of the Year” article
7.- WMAP has mapped the polarization of the microwave radiation over the full sky and discovered that the universe was reionized earlier than previously believed. – “WMAP scores on large-scale structure. By measuring the polarization in the CMB it is possible to look at the amplitude of the fluctuations of density in the universe that produced the first galaxies. That is a real breakthrough in our understanding of the origin of structure.” – ScienceWatch: “What’s Hot in Physics”, Simon Mitten, Mar./Apr. 2008
8.- WMAP has started to sort through the possibilities of what transpired in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a second, ruling out well-known textbook models for the first time.
9.- The statistical properties of the CMB fluctuations measured by WMAP appear “random”; however, there are several hints of possible deviations from simple randomness that are still being assessed. Significant deviations would be a very important signature of new physics in the early universe.
10.- Since 2000, the three most highly cited papers in all of physics and astronomy are WMAP scientific papers