William J. Borucki

NASA Ames Research Center

Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type: Member (elected 2020)


William Borucki is a space scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin. In 1960 and 1962 he received BSc and MSc degrees in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and then joined the Hypersonic Free Flight Branch at NASA Ames. There he conducted research on the radiation environment surrounding heat shield materials used for the Apollo Mission. After the successful Moon landings, he transferred to the Theoretical Studies Branch where he investigated lightning activity in planetary atmospheres and developed mathematical models to predict the effects of nitric oxides and chlorofluoromethanes on the Earth’s ozone layer. In 1982 received a MSc degree in meteorology from the California State University, San Jose.  In 1984, he began advocating the development of a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets and determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. In 2001, he was appointed the Science Principal Investigator for the Kepler Mission. The Mission determined that most stars have planets and that many are small and near the habitable zone. Borucki retired in 2015 and is now a NASA Ames Associate.

Research Interests

William Borucki continues to be interested in the results of the Kepler Mission. In particular he is involved in documenting the thirty years of developments that led to a mission that has demonstrated a practical method of determining the occurrence frequency and characteristics of exoplanets and planetary systems.

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