Episode 163: How Can We See the Universe in a New Way?

Meet the Expert: Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA from 2016 to 2022

Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen  Thomas H. Zurbuchen, known in the space community as Dr. Z, is a Swiss-American astrophysicist, leader, and innovator.

He was the longest continually serving Head of Science at NASA from October 2016 through 2022, the leading program worldwide for doing science in and from space. During this time, he drove all aspects of leadership in space science, launching 37 missions and starting another 54. His achievements include bringing the international James Webb Telescope to launch, overseeing two Mars landings – the Perseverance rover and the first controlled flight away from the Earth with the Ingenuity helicopter – and developing the Parker Solar Probe, a mission to touch the Sun. He also conceived and led the Earth System Observatory, an advanced multi-platform observatory that creates a 3D holistic view of the Earth, from bedrock to atmosphere, and oversaw humanity’s first successful attempt at moving a celestial object, using a spacecraft impact.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Zurbuchen built multiple space instruments, such as the MASS sensor on NASA’s WIND spacecraft, launched in 1992, and the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer, for which he served as team leader, on NASA’s Messenger, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

Due to his achievements, Dr. Zurbuchen is a sought after international expert in innovation and leadership of pioneering organizations. He chaired the US National Academy of Sciences committee, for example, that produced a report on CubeSats in 2016, widely credited for diversifying Mission portfolios and tech approaches for science and Earth observations.


Mars Ingenuity helicopter The Ingenuity helicopter is the first ever helicopter to have flown successfully on another planet!

You can learn more about its creation and amazing technology on NASA JPL’s website



NASA Ingenuity helicopter image (credit NASA)

Meteor DART image


DART was the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.

DART Images  and Videos HERE





Image credit: NASA





James Webb Space Telescope  The James Webb Space Telescope has allowed humans to see further in space than ever before. The images are STUNNING!

Check them out and learn more about the JWST HERE



James Webb Space Telescope (credit: NASA)


“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula              JWST Deep Field

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula (credit  NIRCam Image)                JWST Deep Field image (credit NIRCam Image)




Take the time to sit outside and stare at the night sky. Watch how it changes, just as you are sitting still. What do you notice?

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Astronaut Aquanaut book


A Great book for Exploring!!

Astronaut- Aquanaut  by Jennifer Swanson







Book list: 

Spacecare: A Kid’s Guide to Surviving Space by Jennifer Swanson

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