Planetary Science and Exploration

Participating Faculties: Science (host), Engineering, and Social Sceince

Project Leaders: Peter Brown

Total Project Funding: $ 223,100

Funding Period: 3 years


Western’s Planetary Science and Exploration Interdisciplinary Development Initiative is designed to make Western the go-to place for planetary science and exploration in Canada. Western has a critical mass of planetary scientists that is the largest of any university in the country. This proposal represents a collective effort to develop Canada’s first Planetary Science and Exploration program at Western by fostering new interdisciplinary research and teaching opportunities between the Faculties of Science, Engineering and Social Science. Within the Faculty of Engineering this joint endeavour will enhance expertise in technologies designed for deployment in harsh, demanding environments, guided by Planetary Science goals and building on Western’s strengths in robotics, automation and mechatronics. Within the Faculties of Science and Social Science, this initiative will focus attention on the scientific returns from and implications of planetary exploration.

The Planetary Science and Exploration IDI will draw the best and brightest graduate and undergraduate students to Western and will directly build upon the three key objectives of Western’s new Strategic Plan, Engaging the Future: to enhance the student experience through a culture of self-discovery and student engagement, to expand and enrich the graduate student experience; and to build the research capacity of Western through the recruitment of Postdoctoral Fellows and the growth of graduate programs.

This IDI is a critical first step in establishing a Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (PSX) at Western, a Canadian node of NASA’s newly developing Lunar Science Institute and for launching a multi-million dollar CFI New Initiative Fund bid for a national Canadian Astromaterials Facility. This initiative is the foundation for establishing Western as the premier university for planetary science and exploration in Canada, with the ultimate goal of having Western researchers involved in projects focusing on missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.