I'm Tom Barclay, research scientist working on NASA's TESS mission.

Research Interests

In addition to my programmatic work within the TESS mission, I also run several highly successful and varied research programs. This research takes three interweaving strands: analysis of data from space telescopes, statistical methods in astronomy, and simulating the giant impact phase of terrestrial planet formation.

Exoplanet science using data from NASA's Kepler and K2 missions

Statistical methods in astronomy

Giant impacts in terrestrial planet formation

About Me

I work for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I work within the TESS Science Support Center where I serve as Deputy Director.

My primary scientific interests lie in the analysis of data from space and ground-based telescopes to infer properties of exoplanets and their host stars. This has led to a number of major discoveries including the detection of the smallest known planet, the detection of the first super-Earth-sized planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star, and the detection of the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star. I am also a keen enabler of science exemplified by my leadership position in the Kepler science community.

I grew up in the city of Sheffield in Northern England, UK. My undergraduate studies were performed at the University of Leeds, UK where I obtained a Bachelors degree in Physics with Astrophysics in 2006. My Masters thesis work was performed at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, part of the University of Manchester. I obtained a Master of Science degree in 2007 for work to understand Galactic dust emission. I then moved to Northern Ireland for my doctoral studies where I worked at the Armagh Observatory. I was co-supervised, and was awarded my Ph.D. by, University College London in 2011. I worked on understanding the population of ultra-compact white dwarf binaries.

Click to see my board game collection

After my postgraduate studies, I was appointed to the Kepler Guest Observer Office at NASA Ames Research Center, California as a research scientist.

In 2014 I was promoted to Director of the Kepler/K2 Guest Observer Office. My team developed proposal calls, organizing proposal reviews, provide critical support to the scientific community and develops software to enhance output from Kepler and K2 data sets.

In 2017 I moved to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland to work on the TESS mission. I am Deputy Director of the TESS Science Support Center.

I live in the Silver Spring, Maryland.

Recent Publications

Media and Public Engagement

Here is a sample of videos of me presenting my scientific work to the general public. There include TV interviews, NASA press events, and scientific seminars.

Interview on PBS NewsHour

Colloquium at the SETI Institute

Chicago Ideas Week Talk

NASA Press Breifing for Kepler-186f

National Academy of Sciences Talk

NASA Press Conference for Kepler-69c


  • Phone

    Work: 301-286-5079
  • Address

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    B34, Greenbelt
    MD 20771, USA