Feature

NASA Delivers Nobel Medal Replica to National Air and Space Museum
07.27.10
 
NASA Nobel laureate John Mather presents a replica of the prize flown in space during the STS-132 shutle mission to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Credit: NASA/Paul AlersNASA scientist and Nobel Laureate John Mather, center, and NASA astronaut Piers Sellers, right, presented a replica of the Nobel Prize for Physics medal to John R. Dailey, left, director of the museum. The replica flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during its STS-132 mission in May. Credit: NASA/Paul Alers


Over the years, the National Air and Space Museum has been the repository for many historically significant NASA artifacts. And in a ceremony today, it received a unique new addition. NASA scientist and Nobel Laureate John Mather and NASA astronaut Piers Sellers presented a replica of the Nobel Prize for Physics medal to John R. Dailey, director of the museum. The replica flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during its STS-132 mission in May.

Mather won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2006 for his groundbreaking astrophysics research using NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer satellite. And Sellers is one of the six NASA astronauts who flew on STS-132, Atlantis' last planned mission. During the white-glove hand-off – necessary to preserve the integrity of the artifact – it was noted that this was the first time a Nobel Prize medal (or a replica) had flown in space. The medal is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.

STS-132 crew members and students at the National Air and Space Museum. Credit: NASA/Paul AlersThe STS-132 crew give a presentation at the National Air and Space Museum. Credit: NASA/Paul Alers


Following the medal presentation, the crowd of about 300 that had gathered in the museum's Moving Beyond Earth gallery was treated to a special event. The entire STS-132 crew shared with the audience their experiences during their flight to the International Space Station. After showing the audience a 10-minute video of mission highlights, Commander Ken Ham and his five crewmates answered questions from the audience. The crowd included about 50 middle school students participating in NASA's Summer of Innovation program at the University of the District of Columbia. The Summer of Innovation initiative strives to keep students engaged in science, technology, engineering and math activities during their summer break from classroom studies. You can learn more here: http://www.nasa.gov/soi. The astronauts’ advice to students: Pursue something that is a personal passion and then study hard, particularly science and math. With hard work and dedication, anything is possible.