I wrote this originally on 11/21/2008.
The WMAP satellite originally known as the MAP satellite has been very significant in our understanding of cosmology and galaxy formation. Since its launch in 2001 it has been at the forefront of some exciting discoveries in the field of astronomy. The WMAP satellite has also provided answers and opened up new questions and ideas for scientists to consider.
WMAP stands for Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and its main objective is to measure temperature differences in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation also known as CMB. WMAP was launched in 2001 and its mission is scheduled to end in 2009. The WMAP is positioned in the L2 orbit which is very beneficial because that position helps keep its sensors away from both the Earth and the Sun. Scientists have estimated that CMB radiation has taken 13 billion years to reach the Earth. Using WMAP scientists were able to take the best photo ever taken of the early universe and made some startling discoveries. Discoveries from WMAP have put the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years. Scientists also have come to the conclusion that the first stars from the Big Bang came about 200 million years after the Big Bang. Indeed the WMAP has helped to strengthen the entire Big Bang theory, and it also helped bolster the cosmic inflation theory. The WMAP also gave some of the first real clear insight into dark matter, which is currently mostly unknown. Scientists have also come to the conclusion that neutrinos play no part in the evolution of structure in the universe. Another important facet of the WMAP is that it is helping to help understand the actual size of the universe.
The WMAP satellite has offered new insights into the size and age of the universe. It is helping to open doors that were previously closed and bringing up intriguing new things to study. The WMAP is scheduled to end its mission in 2009, so only time will tell if it will be at the forefront of another discovery.