Here I will speculate a little about what might have gone on with the COBE Satellite. However, whether or not this speculation is correct does not alter the conclusion that the discovery was false. The discovery is falsified by the observed distortion of the beam pattern of the Winston Cone.
John Mather’s instrument on COBE Satellite crapped out completely on launch – as shown in the above sketch.
Most antenna engineers develop a feeling in the gut as to the causes of various failures. In this case they might suspect that something was obstructing the aperture of the antenna.
But without any knowledge of the actual instrument, they might dismiss that thought, saying: Nah! What would block the aperture in deep space?!
CLUE NO. 1
[Click to enlarge]
NASA COBE Satellite and engineer Dennis McCarthy
He says Mather’s experiment (FIRAS) was behind schedule, problematic and rushed at the very end
Last minute design changes were made
In the end the FIRAS experiment crapped out completely upon launch
Mather then pulled a picture-perfect discovery out of this wreck:
The greatest discovery ever, said Stephen Hawking the huckster
Then Mather Nobeled
CLUE NO. 2
OK, so we see that the calibrator could have been at some mid-position when the above pattern measurement was made.
Let us say that when the calibrator closes the mouth of the Winston Cone, it is in the zero degree position. When it is all the way out, it is in the 180 degrees position. So the calibrator was supposed to continually alternate between these two positions, measuring alternately the known blackbody and the unknown sky.
But let us say the calibrator opened up only to 45 degrees position. That is, the open position is 45 degrees. This would explain the above distortion of the pattern.
So instead of looking full-on at the unknown sky, the antenna would be looking at a perfect blackbody looming near its aperture, and a little sky! See what I mean?
The great cosmic blackbody that clinched the Big Bang Cosmology and garnered Nobels may just have been the perfect template provided by the calibrator!
Now read what George Smoot glories in his book Wrinkles in Time about the “aha” moment of the discovery of this blackbody (page 240; the “internal” calibrator is an additional blackbody exemplar carried on board. The calibrator picture above is the external calibrator.):
Rick (Shafer) was now keen to take some early data, and John (Mather) enthusiastically agreed. A day later Rick let out a whoop and showed us the first spectrogram. It showed that the difference between the internal blackbody and the sky was small, which encouraged us to believe that the big bang was indeed the source of the cosmic background.
So it might be that in the above instance a comparison measurement was being made between the internal blackbody exemplar and the external blackbody exemplar, mistaken for the sky.
If the scenario I described happened, it was easiliy diagnosable. And yet a discovery was made!
Today John Mather is the scientific leader of the James Webb Space Telescope, the next generation space telescope.
[QUESTION FOR THE READER:
What would a stuck calibrator do to the other experiment (the other antenna)?!]
All of NASA accomplishment is the accomplishment of NASA contractors. They do the engineering, they make things work. NASA plans, doles out money and ‘manages’.
COBE Satellite was one instance NASA decided to do the engineering inhouse!