ETH Zürich • Professor and Director of Space Programs

Dr. Thomas H. Zurbuchen is a professor and leader of the Space Programs at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland. Known in the space community as “Dr. Z,” he is the longest continually serving head of science at NASA, a post he held from 2016 to 2022. As NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, he was responsible for all aspects of NASA leadership in space science. During his tenure, NASA launched 37 science missions and started 54, including the James Webb Space Telescope, two Mars landings, the Ingenuity helicopter, the Parker Solar Probe, and the DART mission. Zurbuchen 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. He is a member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, recipient of the NASA Outstanding Service Medal, associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, Distinguished Level. He is the 2023 winner of the excellence in international cooperation award of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) meeting in Baku.


International Astronautical Congress 2023

2-6 October 2023

Baku, Azerbaijan


The Global Space Exploration Conference 2021

14-18 June 2021

St. Petersburg, Russia


International Astronautical Congress 2020

12-14 October 2020

Cyberspace edition


International Astronautical Congress 2019

21-25 October 2019

Washington, United States