Twenty Years Ago — November 18, 1989 — the Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE, was launched atop a Delta rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Here’s the 20th anniversary press release.
(Artist’s depiction of the COBE spacecraft. NASA image.)
And here’s a link to another nice artist’s conception of the spacecraft.
COBE was designed to measure the microwave background radiation left from the early universe. COBE carried three instruments:
- Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE), to search for infrared background radiation
- Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR), to map the cosmic radiation
- Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS), to compare the background radiation to a known standard
The astrophysics behind it are beyond me, but I like the pretty pictures.by