The Planck telescope is aboard a spacecraft that launched in May 2009. It is not circling the Earth but orbits a point in the Sun-Earth system called the second Lagrange point.
The Planck mission helps to nail down many of the parameters that other experiments must know to explore aspects of the universe, such as its expansion history, White said.
New analyses are based on the first 15.5 months of data from this mission, which is run principally by the European Space Agency. NASA is a partner of the project.
Planck represents the third generation of attempts to map the cosmic microwave background. The first was COBE, launched in 1989, followed by WMAP, launched in 2001. Comparing the resulting maps shows just how much better the maps have gotten with each successive satellite.
"This is a beautiful illustration of how science works," Lawrence said. "Make a measurement, learn from it, make a better measurement, learn from it."