Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)
A space telescope launched by NASA in 2001 which measures the temperature fluctuations in the → cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. It creates a full-sky map of the CMB, with a 13 arcminute resolution via multi-frequency observations. WMAP is the first mission to use a → Lagrangian point L2 as its permanent observing station at a distance of 1.5 million km. WMAP completed its prime two years of mission operations in September 2003 and is continuing in 2009 its observations for still several years to come. WMAP's measurements have played a considerable role in establishing the current standard model of cosmology. They are consistent with a Universe that is dominated by → dark energy, with negative pressure or a → cosmological constant. In this model, the age of the Universe is 13.73 ± 0.12 billion years. The current expansion rate of the Universe measured by the Hubble constant, is 70.5 ± 1.3 km·s-1 Mpc-1. The content of the Universe consists of 4.56% ± 0.15% ordinary → baryonic matter, 22.8% ± 1.3% → cold dark matter, and 72.6% ± 1.5% of → dark energy, that accelerates the → expansion of the Universe.
WMAP, short for Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, in honor of David Todd Wilkinson (1935-2002), who had been a member of the mission's science team.