Pixel Tracker

Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 4:00 pm | Fair 64º


Launched Rocket Carrying Satellite Developed at UCSB

Planck is a cosmology satellite dedicated to understanding the remnant radiation from the beginning of the universe

A rocket launched Thursday from French Guiana carried a satellite called Planck that scientists at UCSB helped design.

The project is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency and involves many countries and scientists in the United States and Europe.

Planck is a third-generation cosmology satellite dedicated to understanding the remnant radiation from the beginning of the universe. The radiation is called cosmic microwave background, or CMB.

According to Philip Lubin, a UCSB astrophysicist, Planck’s goals include helping scientists understand the origins and fate of the universe and the makeup and distribution of matter, dark matter and dark energy. The satellite will help scientists look for evidence of multiple universes, study how and when early structures formed and test for hyper-expansion due to phase transitions in the early moments of the Big Bang — a process known as inflation.

A prototype of one of the two Planck instruments was built in the UCSB Experimental Cosmology Lab in the late 1990s by Peter Meinhold, a UCSB research scientist, and others in the group. The satellite launched Thursday morning was largely built in Europe but contained numerous critical parts of the instruments that were built in the United States. Meinhold and Rodrigo Leonardi, a postdoctoral fellow involved in data analysis, have been traveling in Europe to consult on the design and development of the satellite, and helping prepare it for launch.

Jatila van der Veen, another research scientist at UCSB who is temporarily working at Purdue University, also participated in the project. Van der Veen will return to her work at UCSB very soon, Lubin said. Mike Seiffer, Todd Gaier, and Tim Koch were involved in the project as graduate students at UCSB, and continue to work on the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

The satellite will take about three months to get into its final orbit and be ready to take data. Meinhold, Leonardi and Lubin are part of a team of scientists that worked on the development of the satellite and will be working on the data analysis and cosmological interpretation.

UCSB scientists also played a key role in the first-generation COBE cosmology satellite that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1989. The UCSB experimental cosmology group has fielded numerous balloon and ground-based experiments for three decades.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.