Following its launch on 14 May 2009, the Planck satellite  has been continually observing the celestial vault and has mapped the entire sky since 13 August to obtain the first very high resolution image of the dawn of the universe. The Planck satellite has just finished its first sky coverage. The preliminary images reveal undreamed of details of emissions of gas and dust in our own galaxy. Scientists from CEA-IRFU, as part of a broad international collaboration, are currently working on the extraction and exploitation of the catalogues of objects detected by Planck. These preliminary catalogues are essential to understanding and subtracting stray foreground emissions from the background light of the universe, a fossil trace of its earliest epochs. It is also improving understanding of the formation of the largest structures in the universe, clusters of galaxies. The first catalogue will be published in January 2011. In contrast, the definitive scientific publications on the first light of the universe are not expected until the end of 2012.
The Planck satellite must survey the entire sky to construct a high resolution image of the Universe's fossil radiation. The satellite is turning on its axis with a speed of rotation of one turn per minute, around an axis offset by 85° in such a way as to sweep out a small strip of the sky on each rotation. As the satellite follows the movement of the sun, this strip is offset by 1° per day. Planck therefore takes six months to survey the entire sky. Since its minimum lifespan is 15 months, it will therefore survey the entire sky at least twice. Video credits: ESA (animation by C. Carreau)
Contacts: , , and
- the press release of the European Space Agency (ESA) (17 March 2010)
- the Planck public website (in French)
For more information : see the French version
 The PLANCK satellite is the fruit of an international collaboration with contribution from various space agencies, including the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The HFI instrument was developed by a consortium led by the French Institute of Spatial Astrophysics (IAS-CNRS) at Orsay (France). The LFI instrument was developed by a collaboration directed by the Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica cosmica (IASF) in Bologna (Italy). The experiment brings together hundreds of European scientists.
Written by: Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud and Dominique Yvon
Last update : 05/03 2010 (2798)