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  4. REF 2014
  5. B07: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

B07: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

OU research in space and environment exploits synergies between terrestrial and extra-terrestrial problems and between past and future environmental change.

Our research has included studies that compare and contrast planetary processes on Earth, Mars and other solar system bodies. We have also studied ecosystems and habitats on Earth, while searching for life-supporting habitats on other worlds.

Research specialisms

  • Ecosystems and sustainability
  • Earth sciences
  • Planetary and space science
  • Astronomy

Headline results

  • OU research in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences was ranked 6th in the UK for the quality and quantity of its research using the Times Higher Education Power Score
  • 77% of OU research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*) for its overall quality profile
  • 77% of OU research was assessed as 4* or 3* for impact

Research highlights

Research at the OU’s Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR) led the development of the Ptolemy instrument, part of the ROSETTA space mission, which landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014 and will advance our understanding of the environment around a comet.

The OU has utilised the space technology from the ROSETTA mission to develop new ways to diagnose serious diseases. Using expertise developed for ROSETTA, CEPSAR researchers have worked with BAE Systems and the Ministry of Defence to develop vital safety equipment on board future Royal Navy submarines.

Open University research has used citizen scientists to gather data to demonstrate the sensitivity of grassland plant species to soil moisture regimes, and helped owners and managers to control water levels in traditional ways, leading to conservation of important plant species and/or enhanced diversity.

The methodology developed by researchers in CEPSAR has been adopted as an international standard. OU scientists are also developing a new system which will provide.

Find out more about our researchers

Current staff (research projects, publications, contact details) in the related departments