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COBE Spacecraft Thumbnail. COBE Engineering Information
from the Cryogenics & Fluids Branch,
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Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE)

Engineering Page

COBE Logo; a triangular design with a picture of the COBE satellite and a small picture of a rocket.

Goddard Space Flight Center

The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) was a mission to measure the cosmic background radiation (generally considered a relic of the big bang). Code 713 (now Codes 552 and 574) provided the long wavelength infrared detectors, called bolometers, the flight helium dewar, test dewars, and a spacecraft propulsion module. The propulsion module was not used, because the program was shifted from a shuttle launch to a Delta launch.

The COBE logo, shown above, feaatures a drawing of the COBE satellite with its solar panels unfolded. (The solar panels are the two "wings" that extend outwards from the main body of the spacecraft.) At the top of the satellite is the sunshade, consisting of golden-colored insulation sheet, roughly in the shape of a funnel. This sunshield prevented sunlight from shining onto the cold part of the satellite. The emblem also has a small drawing of a Delta rocket, the launch vehicle for COBE. You can also see a spacecraft cutaway and launch photo.

For an interesting and readable account of COBE, see The Very First Light, by John C. Mather and John Boslough, Basic Books, New York, 1996 (revised edition 2008). John Mather was project scientist on COBE and shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the mission.

Cryogenics, Propulsion and Fluid Systems Branch Components

The Two COBE Websites, Explained

This section of the Cryogenics & Fluids Branch website presents some of the engineering aspects of COBE. To return to this page from other COBE pages in this website, click on the link to "COBE Engineering Page."

The COBE science data now reside at NASA's Legacy Archive for Microwave Background Data Analysis (LAMBDA) which also presents an overview of the scientific results from COBE. Some of the pages here in the Cryo & Fluids COBE section are linked to the corresponding sections of the LAMBDA site. Those links are always labeled as "COBE science page." You can use any of them, or you can visit the COBE Science Page at LAMBDA right now.

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Curator: Mark O. Kimball
NASA Official: Eric A. Silk
Last Updated: 09/11/2014