An artist’s concept of the Planck spacecraft. (Credits: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The team of scientists behind the European Space Agency’s Planck mission has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, played a key role in the design and construction of the Planck instrument, and in the scientific analysis of the mission’s data.
The Gruber International Prize Program is sponsored by the Gruber Foundation, based at Yale University. The Cosmology Prize “honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the universe.”
Launched in 2009, the Planck satellite spent 4 years making a high-resolution map of the oldest light in the universe, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), emitted 13.8 billion years ago when the universe was only 470,000 years old, giving us a “baby picture” of the cosmos.
This map allows researchers to learn about the entire 13.8-billion-year history of the universe, including its age, rate of expansion, and the distribution of mass and energy throughout. While Planck is not the first mission to map the microwave background, it did so with unprecedented angular resolution, ...