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Welcome to CEPSAR

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CEPSAR is The Open University’s flagship interdisciplinary research centre that brings together world-class researchers from the two Departments – of Physical Sciences and of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems. Research within CEPSAR focuses on the origins, systems and process with respect to the evolution and chemistry of materials that form the stars and planetary bodies, the processes and natural systems that shape the environment of our habitable world now and in the past, and essential properties of a Solar System that allows life to develop on one of its planets. We approach these fundamental areas of science by applying common analytical approaches and conceptual thinking, a modus operandi that has delivered renowned successes on the international stage and is underpinned by our strong pedigree in technological development.

The Open University and CEPSAR have a long-standing international reputation for pioneering research. Key highlights include our Huygens probe Surface Science Package that provided the first characterisation of the surface of Titan, the discovery that long-term low-level chronic nitrogen deposition significantly reduces plant biodiversity in grasslands (a Science top 10 ‘breakthrough’) and the discovery of the first super star cluster in the galaxy Westerlund-1 for example. Since 2001 CEPSAR has amassed external research income exceeding £55 million with a wide portfolio of sponsors –  STFC, NERC, ESA, EPSRC, EU and with increasing numbers of diverse charitable and industrial sponsors.

Under the leadership of the Director, Professor Simon Kelley, CEPSAR provides a vibrant research culture that facilitates collaborative alliances across scientific disciplines. It provides a nurturing scientific home for Doctoral and Post-Doctoral researchers at the outset of their careers and looking to achieve and succeed in their fields to the best of their abilities. CEPSAR is also committed to providing an integrated research support system of laboratories and highly skilled technical staff in the areas of Earth system science, ecosystems and biodiversity, astronomy, physics and planetary & space sciences in order to meet our scientific aims, to continue to forge technological development and to train the next generation of scientists in our fields.



  • Hayley Keen

    CEPSAR Student wins video competition

    Congratulations to PhD student Hayley Keen on winning the prestigious 2014 International AGU (American Geophysical Union) Student Video Competition.

    25 September 2014

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  • Thethi image

    CEPSAR Professor visits Albania

    Professor of Tectonics Nigel Harris has recently returned from Tirana where he gave an invited seminar to the Academy of Sciences of Albania, hosted by Prof. Salvator Bushati.

    30 May 2014

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  • Athena Swan Bronze

    OU awarded for support to women in sciences

    The OU has just been awarded two departmental Athena SWAN bronze awards (1 May) in recognition of its support to women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM), bringing its total number of awards to three.

    6 May 2014

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