Press Release

NASA Scientist Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By SpaceRef Editor
October 6, 2004
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Dr. Charles L. Bennett from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. has been inducted, as a Fellow, into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The induction ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 9 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“The Academy has a long and illustrious history,” said Dr. Bennett. “I am honored and grateful to be elected a member.”

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected 178 new Fellows. Since its inception in 1780, election to the Academy has been one of the highest honors that can be bestowed to an individual. The Academy was founded as an international learned society composed of the world’s leading scientists, artists, business people, and public leaders. Currently, there are 4,000 American Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members. Among its Fellows are 160 Nobel Prize laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Bennett is the Principal Investigator for NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). Using WMAP, scientists captured the afterglow of the big bang and revealed that the universe is 13.7 billion years old and dominated by a mysterious “dark energy.”  The confirmation of the dark energy, which drives the universe to expand at an ever increasing rate, was hailed by Science magazine as the 2003 “Breakthrough of the Year.”

WMAP was launched on June 30 2001 and is in its permanent orbiting station of L2, some million miles away from Earth. WMAP was produced in partnership between Princeton University, N.J., and Goddard. A number of scientists from universities in the United States and abroad are members of the science team.  Dr. Lyman Page of Princeton University was recently named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his work on WMAP as well.

Bennett has been the recipient of numerous awards. For his work on NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer, Bennett was awarded NASA’s highest scientific honor, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award.  In 1999, Bennett was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was presented NASA’s Leadership Award.  In 2003, he received the John C. Lindsay Award for Space Science, and was honored as the 2003 Alumnus of the Year by the Physics Department of the University of Maryland. Recently, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A native of New Brunswick, N.J. but raised in Bethesda, Md., Bennett graduated from the University of Maryland in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy. He received a Ph.D in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1984.

For more information on WMAP or the American Academy of Arts and Sciences consult the following websites: and

SpaceRef staff editor.