Center for Planetary Origins (CPO)

The University of Maryland has a large number of faculty, researchers, and students who address fundamental questions related to the formation and exploration of planetary systems, physical, chemical, and geological processes of planets and other solar system bodies, and the origins of life. These scientists are spread across multiple departments in the university, including Astronomy, Geology, Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Aerospace Engineering; see the CPO Researcher Bios (PDF). We are working to establish a Center for Planetary Origins (CPO) to increase interactions among these scientists and students.

Our understanding of the creation and evolution of planetary systems is changing rapidly. The coming decade will revolutionize our view of our origins and the context of the formation of the Solar System and its evolution within the universe. Advances in observational astronomy and planetary exploration, developments in analytical instrumentation, in cosmochemistry and astrobiology, and theoretical advances in planetary science have placed firmly within our grasp the ability to ask some of the most profound questions imaginable.

  • How did our Solar System and the planets within it originate?
  • Are there other habitable solar systems like ours?
  • What is the range of planetary environments and possibilities for life?
  • Is there life elsewhere within our Solar System or in another?

The CPO will enable undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers to participate in a unique intellectual environment, within which the grand scientific and exploration challenges of the next several decades will be addressed through a broad variety of research opportunities and experiences and imaginative and exciting new courses and summer programs.

UMD’s CPO is enhanced by a wealth of planetary science expertise in the D.C. Metropolitan Area. This includes NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey. CPO will promote meaningful engagement of scientists across disciplines and serves as a focal point to integrate and amplify regional strengths.

[This page is still under construction - check back for more info!]

Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology    Joint Space-Science Center    Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft    UMd Astronomy-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Partnership    UMd Astronomy-Cote d'Azur Observatory Scientific Cooperation and Academic Exchange