And it is this survey that's turning up some surprises.
On Monday, at an international conference in Bologna, Italy, Planck scientists have presented the intermediate results from the mission ahead of its first cosmological dataset expected to be released in 2013.
"The images reveal two exciting aspects of the galaxy in which we live," said Planck scientist Krzysztof M. Gorski from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Warsaw University Observatory in Poland. "They show a haze around the center of the galaxy, and cold gas where we never saw it before."
This microwave "haze" is being emitted from a region surrounding the Milky Way's core. Usually, this kind of emission would be expected from regions that have experienced supernova activity. However, the microwaves detected have a "harder" spectrum, basically meaning the microwave emission is unusually energetic. When compared with the microwave radiation elsewhere in our galaxy, the galactic core's emission is a real oddity.