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The head of NASA Science on images from the James Webb Space Telescope

Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD joins Washington Post Live on Wednesday, July 20. (Video: The Washington Post)
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New images from the James Webb Space Telescope have shown the world the expansiveness of the galaxies formed in the early universe. Join Washington Post Live as Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate, answers questions about what these images mean for the future of space exploration, the significance of the technology that enabled this level of astronomical discovery and the element of wonder attached to seeing the depths of distant space.

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“Where the galaxies arise, frankly, is a matter of debate. Some people say it’s a 100 million years later or 300 million years later. What we announced last week is even in the first image, we had light already from 13.1 billion years, which is 700 million years after the big bang…We're getting as close as many scientists thought the first galaxies are. So, I believe we're going to get awfully close, if not really getting to the first ones."- Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD (Video: Washington Post Live)
“I’m so relieved and so enormously proud of the team that got us there…This is the most complex mission we've ever done. There's a thousand ways or more that this could go badly and one way it can go well. And that's the way this team chartered. And so, for me I’m very excited for them, proud of them, but curious what we're going to find now."- Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD (Video: Washington Post Live)
“The most important thing I feel about is that gay and lesbian scientists are welcome to work with Webb and our data and our teams as are everybody else. That’s the standard I want to set as a leader at NASA...We want to build an environment in NASA...where everybody is very much welcomed and basically feels that they are kind of at home and contribute to these amazing missions that we have."- Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD (Video: Washington Post Live)
“One of the things we’re always reminded is that space is not empty. So, it’s full of these plasmas, the gases from the sun and of course the telescope is assigned to handle that…We’ve been hit six times already, we expected to be hit every month or so for one of them…So, the way I think about it is that we need to understand how abundant these heavier hits are going to be…And kind of just say, can we do something to protect the telescope more than we are right now.”- Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD (Video: Washington Post Live)

Thomas Zurbuchen, PhD

Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA