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Science Unit Project Essay

2470 words - 10 pages

Science Unit Project
By: Danny Luo

1) Describe what you believe are the top 4 WMAP mission results and its significance (there’s more than what is discussed in class!)

The number one result of the mission is that the NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has mapped the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, the oldest light in the universe (from the big bang) and produced the first fine-resolution full-sky map of the microwave sky. Cosmic background radiation is well explained as radiation left over from an early stage in the development of the universe, and its discovery is considered a landmark test of the Big Bang model. When the first atoms formed, the universe ...view middle of the document...

This is important because we will get a firmer and more accurate grasp of the events that happened during the first time after the Big Bang.

The fourth most important mission result is that he WMAP team has reported the first direct detection of pre-stellar helium, providing an important test of the big bang prediction. One of the key predictions of the big bang model is that most of the helium in the universe was synthesized in the hot early universe only a few minutes after the big bang. Previously, cosmologists studied old stars to infer the helium abundance before there were stars. WMAP data, in combination with smaller-scale data from other experiments, show the effects of helium in the microwave patterns on the sky indicating the presence of helium long before the first stars formed.

Write a short research article describing 2 of the following: Dawn Mission and MESSENGER Mission.
Dawn Mission

The goal of the Dawn Mission is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations. Ceres and Vesta reside in the zone between Mars and Jupiter together with many other smaller bodies, in a region named the asteroid belt. Each has followed a very different evolutionary path constrained by the diversity of processes that occurred during the first few million years of solar system evolution.

The most important question of this mission is the role of size and water in determining the evolution of the planets. Ceres and Vesta are a very fitting two bodies with which to address this question, as they are the most massive of the protoplanets, baby planets whose growth was interrupted by the formation of Jupiter. Ceres is very primitive and wet while Vesta is evolved and dry. The science team consists of leading experts in the investigation of the rocky and icy planets using proven measurement and analysis techniques.

Dawn has the potential for making many paradigm-shifting discoveries. Ceres may have active hydrological processes leading to seasonal polar caps of water frost, altering our understanding of the interior of these bodies. Vesta may have rocks more magnetized than on Mars, altering our ideas of how and when dynamos arise. Ceres may have a thin, permanent atmosphere distinguishing it from the other minor planets.

The three principal scientific drivers for the mission are first that it captures the earliest moments in the origin of the solar system enabling us to understand the conditions under which these objects formed. Second, Dawn determines the nature of the building blocks from which the terrestrial planets formed, improving our understanding of this formation. Finally, it contrasts the formation and evolution of two small planets that followed very contrasting evolutionary paths so that we understand what controls that evolution.
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This mission is very timely....

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