Mather, John Cromwell, 1946–, American astrophysicist, b. Roanoke, Va., Ph.D. Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1974. He has been a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., since 1976. Mather and George Smoot shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery and characterization of small temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation. Their measurements, made with the assistance of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, provided support for the Big Bang theory of the birth of the universe and shed new light on the origin of galaxies and stars (see cosmology). Mather led the development of the COBE project proposal and was chief investigator for one of the COBE instruments responsible for the discovery. He is currently senior project scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope.
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