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an astrosocial observation: the nobel connection to the space programThe 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics was heralded by some in the press as the 'First Nobel Prize for Space Exploration.' Indeed the Nobel Foundation's announcement specifically cited the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite launched by NASA in 1989 as the prime-enabling instrument It elaborated further, 'The COBE results provided increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the Universe... These measurements also marked the inception of cosmology as a precise science.' NASA also seized this unique moment of fame to honor its favorite son, the first Nobel scientist of the agency, John Mather, of the Goddard Space Flight Center, who shared the honor with Professor G. Smoot of the University of California, the Principal Investigator of the COBE measurement. It is without any dispute that the Nobel Prize is the highest scientific honor and best-known award of admiration and inspiration to the public and educational sectors. Unfortunately in the American culture, youths are mostly exposed to success icons in the sports, entertainment, and business domains. Science icons (of either gender) are largely unknown to them. We sincerely hope that success stories of Nobel scientists will become part of the learning curriculum in the K-16 educational experience. In this paper, we examine the pedigree of a number of Nobel Prizes over the years, and discuss their interactions with, and connections to, the space program. It is advantageous for the context of educational and public outreach to see such connections, because in a number of public surveys, one important customer expectation for the space program is the search for new knowledge, to which the Nobel Prize is a prominent benchmark.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Ng, Edward W.
(Ng (Edward W.) Pasadena, CA, United States)
Nash, Rebecca L.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 18, 2007
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Report/Patent Number
AIAA 2007-6071
Meeting Information
AIAA SPACE 2007 Conference and Exposition(Long Beach, CA)
Distribution Limits
science icons
Noble Prize in Physics
Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite