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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.



  • Rosetta spacecraft

    Rosetta: OU’s Ptolemy instrument is “GO”

    Ptolemy has been asleep for over 3 years at a temperature of -60°C during the Rosetta hibernation. Following the high profile awakening of the Rosetta spacecraft in January and the Lander last week it is now Ptolemy’s turn.

    14 April 2014

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    CEPSAR student has most downloaded paper in a month

    CEPSAR student Catherine Mottram who works in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems has had a paper published by The Geological Society of London.

    24 February 2014

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  • Plato image

    Searching for New Worlds with PLATO

    The exploration of planets around stars other than the Sun, known as extrasolar planets or ‘exo-planets’, is one of the most exciting topics of 21st century science. One of the key goals of this re-search is to discover and learn the properties of Earth-like worlds in the Sun’s neighbourhood. ESA, the European Space Agency, will do this in preparing a new space mission named PLATO. 

    20 February 2014

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