|February 11, 2003|
RELEASE: 03-056NASA renamed an orbiting satellite, called the Microwave Anisotropy Probe, in honor of David T. Wilkinson, a pioneer in physics and cosmology, who died in September 2002.
WMAP builds on the COBE legacy by measuring the tiny temperature fluctuations in the CMB with much higher resolution, sensitivity, and accuracy. The mission aims at understanding the most fundamental aspects of the universe that have given rise to the structure of galaxies observed on the largest scales.
In 1963, Wilkinson set out on a quest to find the predicted cosmic microwave background afterglow radiation from the big bang. As an assistant professor at Princeton in the early 1960s, Wilkinson and a colleague confirmed the 1964 discovery of the CMB by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. Wilkinson continued on to make increasingly more impressive measurements that put the big bang theory and ideas about the evolution of the universe on solid ground.
Wilkinson served the Physics Department Chairman from 1987 to 1990. He loved to teach and was awarded the Princeton President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. Wilkinson, who dedicated his professional life to answering the most profound questions of our Universe, died on September 5, 2002, at the age of 67 after a long struggle with cancer. For more information about NASA, visit us on the Internet at:
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