VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has coordinated the development of an extremely sensitive high frequency radio receiver for the Planck Mission. The receiver, valued at approximately €8 M, will be used to measure cosmic microwave background radiation originating from the early life of the universe. It will help scientists determine, among other things, the age and structure of the universe. The radio receivers are currently being installed in the satellite, which will be launched into space in 2008.

A European Space Agency (ESA) undertaking, the Planck probe will be equipped with a 1.5 m radio telescope and two receivers: one for measuring lower frequencies, one for higher. The Finnish team designed and constructed the most challenging components of the low frequency receiver. The development work was lead by VTT and the Finnish firm Elektrobit Microwave was responsible for constructing and testing the equipment.

The technology developed in the project is already available for use, for example, in security checks, detecting vehicles through fog and telecommunications applications. It is also suitable for high precision cloud radars and for making unique astronomical discoveries.