Skip to content

Toggle service links
You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

Planetary and Space Sciences

An image depicting planetary and space sciences

Research in planetary and space science (PSS) covers a wide range of Solar System science and exploration. We investigate the origin and evolution of the Solar System, through the physical, geological, chemical and biological processes that drive it. We use laboratory and space mission experiments, remote observation, environmental simulation and modelling to investigate the surfaces and atmospheres of the terrestrial planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets and extraterrestrial materials.

Research activity in PSS is funded mostly by the UK Science & Technology Funding Council (STFC), the European Space Agency and European Union, but also draws in support from other research councils, charities and industry.

PSS has a long history of involvement in major Solar System exploration missions through the exploitation of instruments developed at the OU, such as on Cassini Huygens, Stardust, Genesis and Rosetta, and through international collaborative teams. PSS members are active in the development of new mission proposals and studies with ESA, other space agencies and national programmes. In addition we make use of international ground- and space-based observatories as well as in-house laboratory and simulation facilities. Research students are involved in all aspects of PSS research.

Key facts

  • We provide an interdisciplinary environment with around 50 staff including 20 postgraduate students
  • We were part of the UoA7 submission from The Open University, which achieved 6th in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework power ranking (reflecting the quality and cohort size), with 77 per cent of our outputs achieving 3*/4* grades
  • Student access to unparalleled laboratory facilities for analysis of extraterrestrial samples
  • Many large grants from a wide range of funding agencies
  • Studentships funded by STFC available each year

Facilities

Our extensive laboratory facilities are broadly subdivided into those used to characterise the chemistry and isotopic composition of matter in the Solar System or the simulation of Earth and Planetary processes. Instruments include state-of-the-art commercially sourced (e.g. nano-SIM;FIB-SEM; laser Raman microprobe; MS and GC-MS) as well as unique instruments developed in-house (e.g. ‘Finesse’ mass spectrometer; Mars atmosphere and surface simulation chambers; Cometary surface simulation chamber; All-Angle Light Gas Gun). These are backed up by clean rooms and sample preparation facilities, instrument development laboratories and an extensive meteorite collection. Students also have access to analytical facilities across the faculty, as well as the University research computer cluster.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Name:
Administrative support
Email:
science-phd-enquiries@open.ac.uk
Phone:
+44 (0)1908 659845

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.

Publications

Research publications by Open University staff are available through Open Research Online (ORO), the university's repository of research publications and other research outputs. ORO can be searched or browsed by staff name or subject.

The following list, generated from ORO, provides a flavour of the most recently published work in Planetary and Space Sciences