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This microwave tower can transmit information like telephone calls and computer data from one city to another.
How do we "see" using Microwaves?
Radar is an acronym for "radio detection and ranging". Radar was developed to detect objects and determine their range (or position) by transmitting short bursts of microwaves. The strength and origin of "echoes" received from objects that were hit by the microwaves is then recorded.
What do Microwaves show us?
In the 1960's a startling discovery was made quite by accident. A pair of
scientists at Bell Laboratories detected background noise using a
special low noise antenna. The strange thing about the noise was that it was
from every direction and did not seem to vary in intensity much at all.
If this static were from something on our world, like radio
transmissions from a nearby airport control tower, it
would only come from one direction, not everywhere.
The scientists soon realized they had discovered the
cosmic microwave background radiation. This radiation, which
fills the entire Universe, is believed to be a
clue to it's beginning, something known as the Big Bang.
The image above is a Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) image of the cosmic microwave background, the pink and blue colors showing the tiny fluctuations in it.
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NASA Official: Ruth Netting
Last Updated: March 27, 2007