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Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation in Google Earth

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Map, wrapped around Google EarhMicrowave Sky. Google Earth Backdrop

Moving up in scale from my Google Earth Solar System model, this file displays the all-sky microwave background map of the universe produced by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).

The Microwave Sky (700kB)

From the WMAP website:

The detailed, all-sky picture of the infant universe from three years of WMAP data. The image reveals 13.7 billion year old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies… This image shows a temperature range of ± 200 microKelvin.

The file provides options to view the map from the outside looking in, and also from the inside looking out. To enable this I simply placed the same image overlay 2 different altitudes in GE – ground level and 80000000m (effectively infinity). With the second option you’ll notice some slight image break-up when looking towards the poles. Nevertheless it gives an interesting inside view.

The major hurdle I had to overcome in getting this into Google Earth is that the published WMAP image uses a different map projection, Mollweide, from the Equidistant Cylindrical required for the free Google Earth.  I converted between the two formats using the powerful, but not very well documented GDAL command line utilities – part of  the open source GIS kit FWTools.  I’ll go into more detail on the method in a future post.

Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

  1. February 19th, 2008 at 11:08 | #1

    this is cool

  2. Bagus
    January 17th, 2011 at 17:59 | #2

    Hope to see this updated with new data from the Plank Observatory!


  1. July 21st, 2007 at 17:54 | #1