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Frontier Technology, Inc. Scientist member of team that wins the Peter Gruber Foundation's 2006 Cosmology Prize


Dr. Thomas L. Murdock, Vice President, Frontier Technology, Inc. of Beverly Massachusetts, is a member of the science team that has won the Peter Gruber Foundation's 2006 Cosmology Prize. The prize's gold medal and $250,000 cash prize was presented to team leader John Mather of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) science working group, representing the large project team, on August 15 at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Prague, Czech Republic.

The annual Peter Gruber Foundation's Cosmology Prize recognizes those who have contributed fundamental advances in the field of cosmology. Co-sponsored by the International Astronomical Union, the prize aims to acknowledge and encourage further exploration in a field that "shapes the way we perceive and comprehend our universe," according to the foundation's Web site.

The COBE satellite was launched on November 18, 1989 to measure the early universe's diffuse infrared and microwave radiation, and the COBE science team was honored by the foundation for the satellite's multiple accomplishments. COBE showed us that the young universe was hot, dense, and almost uniform; that it contained weak fluctuations or lumps that grew into the galaxies and stars we see today; that these fluctuations were the consequence of a hot Big Bang; and that the universe is filled with diffuse radiation from previously unknown galaxies. Dr. Murdock’s involvement in the COBE mission was with the Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) that was instrumental in the first definitive detection of the Cosmic Infrared Background (CIB) - the background infrared glow across the sky produced by dust warmed by all the stars and galaxies that have existed since the beginning of time as well as providing the definitive measurements of the infrared Zodiacal Light—heat emissions from solar-heated dust in the solar system that had to be accounted for in the determination of the CIB.

Mather will receive half the Prize. The balance will be shared by the other members of the COBE Science Working Group: Charles L. Bennett; Nancy W. Boggess; Edward S. Cheng; Eli Dwek; Samuel Gulkis; Michael Hauser; Michael Al Janssen; Thomas Kelsall; Philip M. Lubin; Stephan S. Meyer; S. Harvey Moseley; Thomas L. Murdock; Richard A. Shafer; Robert F. Silverberg; George F. Smoot; Rainer Weiss; the estate of David T. Wilkinson (deceased); and Edward L. Wright.

Dr. Murdock joined FTI in August, 1997 and leads Sensor Operations. He has, over the last thirty years, been a leader in 1) the development of IR sensors, science and technology; 2) the processes utilized in E-O sensor data collection, performance evaluation and calibration; 3) reduction, analysis and modeling of geophysical data; and 4) the application of this knowledge to space systems design and operation. He was responsible for the certification of the scientific accuracy and precision of the BMDO MSX database. He is leading efforts to define the requirements for the calibration sources and to implement the ground and on-orbit calibration and performance verification techniques and analysis needed for future civilian and DoD systems. He has hands-on experience in design, fabrication, testing, calibration, data analysis and signal exploitation from space based and ground based optical (UV-VIS-IR) multispectral and hyperspectral sensing systems. His group currently supports several DoD satellite-based missions.

The Peter Gruber Foundation was founded in 1993 and established a record of charitable giving principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it is located. The Foundation supports five international awards: Cosmology; Justice; Genetics; Neuroscience; and Women's Rights.

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