Edward Wright, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, has been named a 2023 fellow of the American Astronomical Society for key contributions to the experimental design and data analysis for the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite, and for scientific leadership as principal investigator of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission.
Now a research professor after retiring from teaching, Wright is interested in infrared astronomy and cosmology. He was the lead researcher on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, which launched in December 2009 and finished its first coverage of the whole sky in July 2010. The spacecraft was renamed NEOWISE in September 2013 and is currently on a planetary defense mission looking for hazardous asteroids.
Wright began working on the Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE, in 1978 and is still using the data to study the cosmic infrared background. In 1992, he received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on the satellite. The COBE team was awarded the Gruber Prize in Cosmology in 2006.