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France Birth of the U_Hass(1).jpg

Called the cosmic microwave background, this light reveals secrets of the universe's origins, fate, ingredients and more. The three panels show 10-square-degree patches of all-sky maps created by space-based missions capable of detecting the cosmic microwave background. The first spacecraft, launched in 1989, is NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE, the second satellite the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP, was launched in 2001 and the third satellite, Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA contributions, was launched in 2009. (AP Photo/ESA Planck Collaboration)