Signature Research Areas | Planetary Science & Exploration

Astronaut in space


50+ faculty members active in CPSX

First international affiliate of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute

Represents Canada’s lunar science by leading the Canadian Lunar Research Network

Groundbreaking planetary science research with colleagues at the institute and the Canadian Space Agency

Leads national NSERC CREATE network developing Earth and space exploration technologies and techniques

The Canadian Astrobiology Network, centered at Western, has been given affiliate status within the NASA Astrobiology Network

Offers Canada's only graduate program in planetary science

Provides Canadian astronaut field geology training


By addressing questions of relevance to the study of matters related to planets and space, the Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration has become the country's leading organization providing planetary science and exploration research and training. It strives to provide Canadian and global space programs with the necessary expertise to design and support future planetary mission activities.

Key Research Initiatives

Institute for Earth & Space Exploration

The Institute for Earth & Space Exploration is an interdisciplinary research effort involving members of the faculties of Science, Engineering, Social Science, Health Sciences and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Its researchers are engaged in the following major areas of research:

  • Astrobiology: investigating the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life on Earth and on other planets
  • Cosmochemistry: investigating planetary materials, such as meteorites, to develop a more detailed, quantitative understanding of solar system history and chronology
  • Planetary Atmospheres: interpreting the dynamics, thermodynamics and chemistry of the neutral and ionized components of an atmosphere, improving our ability to predict change in our own atmosphere and further understand critical issues for human survival
  • Planetary Dynamics/Astronomy: understanding the dynamic interaction of planets and small bodies, and characterizing planetary objects
  • Planetary Interiors: inferring the internal structure of planetary bodies and unraveling their formation and subsequent evolution
  • Planetary Surfaces: studying features visible on planetary bodies and understanding the underlying physical processes that produce them
  • Space Systems: designing systems and hardware required to fly instruments and technology in space
  • Modular Material Retrieval System: designing reconfigurable robotic and mechatronic systems for collection, handling, analysis and containment of pristine samples from terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments
  • Telerobotics: investigating requirements for the teleoperation of robots on Earth and other planets, including design of specialized haptics-enabled robotic systems and algorithms for bilateral teleoperation
  • Space History: examining the history of space and planetary exploratio