Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist Charles L. Bennett has been appointed to four National Academy of Sciences boards that advise the government on the nation's space science programs.
Bennett, a professor in the university's Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy and principal investigator of NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, will serve on both the NAS Space Studies Board and its executive committee. The board provides independent and authoritative advice on all aspects of space science and applications.
Bennett also was appointed to co-chair the NAS Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics. The committee monitors the status of space- and ground- based astronomy and astrophysics programs and provides assessments to the National Science Foundation, NASA and other institutions. The committee's aim is to encourage progress in astronomy and astrophysics and assist the federal government in planning programs in these fields.
He also was recently appointed to the National Research Council's NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee. The National Research Council is the NAS arm that carries out studies. The committee will report next year on NASA's progress in implementing NAS recommendations on astronomy and astrophysics research.
"It is both an honor and a serious responsibility to serve on these committees of the National Academy of Sciences," Bennett said. "This is an exciting time for astrophysics. With frequent new discoveries we are unraveling the mysteries of the universe. Yet we face severely limited resources. We must be prudent in determining and executing our scientific priorities. The National Academy of Sciences plays a critical role in advising the government on these matters."
A cosmologist, Bennett was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and also was named winner that year of the academy's Henry Draper Medal, given once every four years for significant contributions to astronomical physics.
As principal investigator of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Bennett leads a NASA Explorer mission aimed at determining precisely the age, composition and curvature of the universe. WMAP measures the temperature of cosmic background radiation, the oldest light in the universe and a remnant of the Big Bang. In March, Bennett and his team made international news with their announcement that the universe expanded from quantum fluctuations to astronomical scales within its first trillionth of a second. The finding, based on data from WMAP, supports a 20-year old theory known as "inflation," that describes how the cosmos grew from subatomic in size to a vast expanse of stars and galaxies over 13.7 billion years.
Color photos of Bennett are available. Contact Lisa De Nike at LDE@jhu.edu or at 443-287-9960.
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