A team of students has been working on this project for more than two years now, and we are ever expanding to include new members from diverse backgrounds.
The overall team is divided into different sub teams that will work together to make this launch a success. The Orbits, Launch and Propulsion team is responsible for determining what orbit we will launch into and how the time capsule will arrive in that orbit. The Bus, Power and Payload team is creating the physical time capsule and utilizing cutting edge technology to understand how to shrink data into its most minute form. Currently there are two aspects to the payload team: a DNA experiment and conducting roughly 1,000 interviews from throughout the U of M community to be put on the time capsule. Lastly, the Tracking team is in charge of figuring out how we will track the time capsule in space after it has been launched and know when to bring it back down. The Marketing team is working to spread the word about this amazing project to as many people as possible.
As a multidisciplinary project, the time capsule is intended to represent everyone involved with the University of Michigan—students, faculty, and staff. It is our desire to share the multitude of individual narratives that collectively make up the heart of this University. Our goal is to preserve these narratives in space for 100 years to leave an unparalleled legacy for future generations.
Thomas Zurbuchen, Faculty Lead
Thomas Zurbuchen is a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. From 2009 to 2015, he served as the UM Associate Dean of Entrepreneurial Programs in the College of Engineering, and from 2012 to 2015 he was the Senior Counselor for Entrepreneurial Education. Prof. Zurbuchen was the founding director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. He serves on the boards of three small companies and non-profits. In 2013, Zurbuchen was appointed by Michigan Gov. Snyder to the Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees. He has been at the University of Michigan for more than 20 years.
Zurbuchen, who holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Bern, Switzerland, received numerous awards, including the prestigious US Presidential Early Career Award, which represents the highest honor by the US government for early career scientists and engineers. Zurbuchen, a specialist in the robotic exploration of space, served as team leader for the development of NASA’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer, an instrument that was part of the MESSENGER spacecraft, which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015. His team is actively involved in the development of a new space instrument, and is responsible for five such instruments currently in flight.
Zurbuchen also has a long record of service as a chair and member of committees advising NASA, NSF and the DOL. He served on several committees of the National Academies, mostly focused on Space Research and Innovation. He has also testified before Congress on research topics, educational issues, and export control.