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For detailed information, see the NASA MAP home page
The purpose of MAP is to map the cosmic microwave background radiation with angular resolution of 0.3 ° and an accuracy of 40 microKelvin. This is expected to reveal much about the early history of the universe at the time matter and radiation uncoupled, and to provide values for such cosmoloical parameters as the Hubble constant and the baryon density.
The role of the NRAO CDL in the MAP project is to design and build the HEMT amplifiers which have the very low noise level necessary to perform these observations.
The satellite will be placed at the L2 point (far beyond the Moon, but tracking the Earth-Moon pair) for isolation from interference from the Earth and full sky visibility. The amplifiers will be cooled to about 80K by passive radiators, and will have about twice the noise temperature they would have at the usual 15K operating temperature. There will be 80 flight-qualified amplifiers incorporated into radiator assemblies by Princeton researchers. The satellite is planned to operate for at least two years beyond its target launch date of September 2000.
To see pictures of some of the MAP amplifiers: