The WGSBN(a Working Group for the International Astronomical Union) is responsible for naming small planets and comets. On Monday, they released their latest bulletin, which included new names for a number of small planets. Among those, was a small asteroid being named in honor of Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate.
The asteroid was discovered back in 2004 by Marc Buie at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen is an astrophysicist was a professor at the University of Michigan. He has authored and co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers on solar and heliospheric phenomena, as well as space and space systems research.
Now he serves a role at NASA as Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. He works on NASA’s scientific missions such as Mars 2020. Last year, we spoke with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen on the Mars 2020 mission.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen is tasked with helping us answer some of humanity’s biggest questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone? How does the universe work?NASA leadership team page
He has received many awards throughout his career, including the US Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the 2018 Heinrich-Greinacher prize.
Many other minor planets were named in honor of the descendants of the discoverer, and scientists.