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The CMB through the eyes of spacecraft

As technology has advanced, so has the ability to map the cosmic microwave background in extreme detail.
04_cmb
Credit: ESA
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) holds an immense amount of information about the universe’s properties. The key is to map this radiation in such a way to capture the smallest detail. Scientists have come a long way since first detecting the CMB in the mid-1960s. At the end of 2012, researchers with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe released the mission’s final data, which shows the CMB’s variations smaller than 0.3° across and temperature differences of a few parts in 100,000.

So, how have CMB probes changed the appearance of sky maps changed since the first observation in 1965?

NASA/WMAP Science Team
This simulated image shows what the CMB would have looked like if scientists had the ability to map the entire sky in 1965. The detector would have measured the same temperature in all directions; the white component along the horizontal center is emission from the Milky Way’s disk.
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