Media Releases

Centre to explore next frontier of planetary science

October 22, 2013

TORONTO, ON – The Cen­tre for Plan­e­tary Sci­ence (CPS), an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary, tri-cam­pus cen­tre ded­i­cat­ed to the study and explo­ration of plan­ets both near and far was launched on Octo­ber 18 at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Scar­bor­ough (UTSC).

The CPS will be host­ed with­in the Depart­ment of Phys­i­cal and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence at UTSC and will com­ple­ment research already being done there on the ori­gin and evo­lu­tion of plan­ets. The role of the CPS will be to bring togeth­er researchers and stu­dents from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines ded­i­cat­ed to the explo­ration and study of plan­ets both inside and out­side our solar sys­tem.

“When UTSC came into exis­tence 50 years ago peo­ple were only able to spec­u­late about plan­ets beyond our own solar sys­tem. With the estab­lish­ment of the Cen­tre for Plan­e­tary Sci­ence, UTSC will be posi­tioned at the fore­front of the excit­ing task of describ­ing the almost 1,000 worlds that have been dis­cov­ered in the last 50 years,” says Mal­colm Camp­bell, vice-prin­ci­pal of research at UTSC.

Plan­e­tary sci­ence is expe­ri­enc­ing a rev­o­lu­tion of late with the dis­cov­ery of a mul­ti­tude of plan­ets orbit­ing around dis­tant stars. Astronomers are now design­ing obser­va­tion­al strate­gies to find the first traces of life on remote, Earth-like worlds. They are also cat­a­logu­ing the diver­si­ty of plan­ets found around dis­tant stars in order to deter­mine the fre­quen­cy of plan­ets sim­i­lar to Earth.

“Plan­e­tary Sci­ence is an excit­ing and emerg­ing field with exten­sions to dif­fer­ent fields of research with­in the Depart­ment of Phys­i­cal and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence,” says Julian Low­man, asso­ciate chair of the physics and astro­physics group at UTSC. “This cen­tre will pro­vide a gath­er­ing point for researchers at U of T work­ing across the spec­trum of inter­ests in plan­e­tary ori­gins and evo­lu­tion.”

Plan­e­tary sci­en­tists are also look­ing for life with­in our solar sys­tem from Mars to the dis­tant moons of Sat­urn and Jupiter. The recent dis­cov­ery of sol­id rocky exo­plan­ets is mak­ing both the knowl­edge of plan­e­tary sci­ence and geo­science essen­tial to the inter­pre­ta­tion of new astro­nom­i­cal data.

“This fer­tile con­ver­gence of ideas between geo­physics, plan­e­tary sci­ence and astron­o­my is one that is grow­ing stronger as exo­plan­et data accu­mu­lates,” says Kris­ten Menou, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of the­o­ret­i­cal astro­physics at UTSC. “Under­pin­ning this explo­ration of plan­ets both near and far is a strong desire to under­stand our exis­tence on Earth in the greater cos­mic con­text it deserves.”

The CPS will also admin­is­ter an exten­sive vis­i­tor pro­gram and a com­pet­i­tive post­doc­tor­al fel­low­ship pro­gram in order to pro­vide an aca­d­e­m­ic forum for fac­ul­ty, post­doc­tor­al fel­lows and stu­dents ded­i­cat­ed to plan­e­tary sci­ence.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Don Camp­bell
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Scar­bor­ough
Tel: 416–208-2938