Featured Missions & Projects - Observational Cosmology Laboratory (665)
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large space observatory that will operate in an orbit some 1 million miles from Earth. JWST will find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. It will also peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own solar System. Webb's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. The observatory is scheduled to launch in 2018.
The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER) is a balloon-borne instrument to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. It will search for the signature of primordial gravity waves excited during a hypothesized period of rapid expansion ("inflation") shortly after the Big Bang. Detecting evidence of these gravity waves would provide important evidence for the inflation model. PIPER uses several technologies developed at Goddard Space Flight Center. The experiment will fly from a high-altitude scientific balloon at altitudes of 23 miles (37 km), with the first flights scheduled for 2012.
The Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry (BETTII) project is a collaboration between NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland, with assistance from the Far-Infrared Telescope Experiment team in Japan. The instrument will operate on a high-altitude balloon to enable observations of far-infrared (30-300 micron) wavelengths. The interferometer's 8-meter baseline provides unprecedented ability to resolve details at far-infrared wavelengths. Data collected by BETTII will address key questions about the nature of disks in young cluster stars and active galactic nuclei and the envelopes of evolved stars. BETTII will also lay the groundwork for future space interferometers.
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) created a map of temperature fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation -- the remnant afterglow of the hot young universe -- at much higher resolution, sensitivity, and accuracy than its predecessor, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). WMAP observations shed light on several key questions in cosmology, including the structure and physical parameters of the universe. WMAP was launched into orbit in 2001. Observations formally concluded in October 2010, although analysis of the data continues.
The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) is an orbiting space telescope that is investigating the causes and evolution of star formation in galaxies over the history of the universe. The telescope will help scientists understand how do galaxies grow and change over 10 billion years of cosmic history. It surveys millions of galaxies at ultraviolet wavelengths, enabling researchers to determine where and how rapidly stars are forming within the galaxies. An aircraft-launched Pegasus rocket took GALEX into orbit in April 2003.
ARCADE is a high altitude balloon payload designed to study the early universe. It measured the frequency spectrum of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) at centimeter wavelengths, to search for signals from the first stars to form after the Big Bang. ARCADE's science goals were to observe the formation of structure from the first stars and galaxies, search for particle physics relics from the Big Bang, and understand the large-scale structure and energetics of our Galaxy. ARCADE flew in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006.
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