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Six years of science: NASA's Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen reflects on his tenure as the agency's science cheif

Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, tears apart the contingency plan during a NASA Perseverance rover mission post-landing update, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls
(NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, tears apart the contingency plan during a NASA Perseverance rover mission post-landing update, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

For the past six years, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen has led NASA’s science division. From the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope to landing a robot on Mars, Zurbuchen has been at the helm for some of NASA’s most complex and critical science missions.

At the end of this year, he’s leaving the agency.

We’ll speak with Zurbuchen about his six years leading NASA science and what’s ahead for the agency’s science mission directorate.

Then, earlier this year, a group of scientists recommended NASA look at Uranus. The decadal survey outlined reasons why the agency should send a mission to the gas giant. We’ll revisit a conversation with planetary scientist Paul Byrne about why that’s exciting -- and important.

 

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.<br/><br/>Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.