Planck space observatory's detectors become coldest known objects in space

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Washington, July 4 (ANI): The detectors of Planck space observatory's High Frequency Instrument have reached their amazingly low operational temperature of -273.05 degrees Celsius, making them the coldest known objects in space.

Planck is equipped with a passive cooling system that brings its temperature down to about -230 degree C by radiating heat into space.

Three active coolers take over from there, and bring the temperature down further to an amazing low of -273.05 degrees C, only 0.1 degrees C above absolute zero - the coldest temperature theoretically possible in our Universe.

Such low temperatures are necessary for Planck's detectors to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the first light released by the universe only 380,000 years after the Big Bang, by measuring its temperature across the sky.

The detectors will look for variations in the temperature of the CMB that are about a million times smaller than one degree. This is comparable to measuring from Earth the heat produced by a rabbit sitting on the Moon.

This is why the detectors must be cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero (-273.15 degrees C, or zero Kelvin, 0K).

The spacecraft has also just entered its final orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system, L2.

The Planck Mission Control Team conducted a crucial orbit insertion maneuver designed to place the satellite into its final orbit about L2.nce commanded, the burn was auto-controlled by Planck, with the thrusters operating for between 12 and 24 hours.

The maneuver directed the satellite into its final operational orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system, L2.

The thruster burn was planned to deliberately under perform by a small margin, necessitating a small 'touch up' maneuver in the coming days to bring the satellite fully onto its planned trajectory.While this maneuver itself is routine, it represents the final major step in the long voyage to L2, and everyone here is quite happy to see Planck getting into its operational orbit," said Chris Watson, Spacecraft Operations Manager. (ANI)

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