The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) was launched on June 30, 2001, at 3:46 p.m. EDT at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA.
On February 11, 2003, the public relations group from NASA made a press release regarding the age and composition of the universe. This release included the most intricate "baby picture" of the Universe taken so far, while waiting for the launch and results of the Planck Surveyor satellite. According to NASA, this picture "contains such stunning detail that it may be one of the most important scientific results of recent years".
Important inferences from the initial analyses of the WMAP data
- The universe is 13.7 billion years old (to within about one percent error ).
- The universe is composed of 4% ordinary matter, 23% of an unknown type of dark matter, and 73% of a mysterious dark energy.
- The cosmological scenarios of cosmic inflation are consistent with the observations.