Skywatch

  • March 15, 2007

    Episode 88: First Light

    Download this episode

    Shownotes

    How did the universe come into being? To figure out where the universe came from and how it's evolving, we need to look at what was happening very early, right after the Big Bang. Scientists can look for "first light," the leftover glow from the Big Bang. The leftover heat is part of the microwave spectrum. Two earlier satellites, the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE) and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe studied this "cosmic background radiation." The satellites were designed to be extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, and mapped the radiation throughout the sky. Now a new satellite, the European Space Agency's Planck probe, will examine that background radiation. Planck, set to launch in 2008, will map the sea of microwaves with a precision that was unattainable earlier