A new image from the Planck mission shows what it's been up to for the past year--surveying the entire sky for clues to our universal origins. Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant participation from NASA, has been busily scanning the whole sky at nine frequencies of light, with the ultimate goal of isolating fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background--or light from the beginning of time. These fluctuations represent the seeds from which structure in our universe evolved.
"This image shows both our Milky Way galaxy and the universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang in one expansive view," said Charles Lawrence, the NASA project scientist for the mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The radiation from the Milky Way traveled hundreds or thousands of years to reach us, while the radiation from the early universe traveled 13.7 billion years to reach us. What we see in this picture happened at very different times.
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