EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / C. CARREAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / C. CARREAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Planck space observatory scanning the sky, artwork. This unmanned spacecraft, launched on 14 May 2009, is designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the radiation left over from the Big Bang. The spacecraft observes a large circle on the sky as it spins (shown here). As the spin axis follows the Sun, the circle observed by the instruments moves round the sky at a rate of 1 degree per day. Planck will take about 6 months to complete a full scan of the sky, charting two complete sky maps during its expected lifetime (about 15 months).
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