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  • Current events for November 18, 2017
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    Events in space history for 11/18:
    • Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) launched (1989).

        (From "Spinoff 1991," NASA, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1991, p. 16.)

        Launched on November 18, 1991, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) is studying the origin and dynamics of the universe and seeking evidence to support the Big Bang theory that the universe began with a cataclysmic explosion.

        Operating in a polar orbit 560 miles high, COBE is mapping the diffuse infrared radiation, called the cosmic background, that bombards Earth from every direction; determining the detailed spectrum of the background radiation; and searching for the earliest formed galaxies. COBE data has enabled astronomers to create the first map of the distribution of nitrogen throughout the Milky Way galaxy. COBE's all-sky nitrogen survey, along with additional maps of carbon and dust distributions, provides information that may help scientists understand better the heating and cooling processes that take place in the universe. It is expected that COBE data will help clarify such matters as the nature of the primeval explosion believed to have created the universe, and the processes leading to the formation of galaxies. Goddard Space Flight Center is COBE project manager.

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