This replica of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics medal was presented to the National Air and Space Museum by its winner, John Mather, on October 3, 2007. Mather, of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, was awarded the Nobel Prize jointly with George F. Smoot of the University of California at Berkeley "for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotrophy of the cosmic background radiation." That is, using the COBE (COsmic Background Explorer) satellite, Mather and Smoot discovered "the basic form of the cosmic microwave background radiation as well as its small variations," work that supports the theory of the Big Bang. The National Air and Space Museum has a replica of the COBE satellite in the collection.
At the request of Dr. Mather's and with NASA's cooperation, this Nobel Prize replica was flown in space aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-132 in May 2010 by astronaut Piers Sellers, who personally returned the artifact to the Museum during an appearance on July 27, 2010.