About LPL

Welcome from Tim Swindle, Department Head and Director

Tim SwindleWelcome to the University of Arizona’s Department of Planetary Sciences (PTYS) and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL). Let me tell you a little about this institution.

LPL was founded in 1960 by planetary astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper, after whom the Kuiper Belt of icy objects in the outer Solar System and the Kuiper Prize (the top honor of the world’s largest organization of planetary scientists) are named. Most of the original work was based on observations using telescopes, but as the exploration of the planets expanded in scope, so did LPL. In 1973, PTYS was formed, to educate succeeding generations of planetary scientists. 

Our dedicated faculty, research staff, and students come from a variety of backgrounds, including physics, astronomy, geosciences, chemistry, and engineering, but have a common interest in planets.

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Our Mission

The Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is an academic institution that pursues scholarly research and education across the broad discipline of planetary and solar systems science through use of theoretical studies and data analysis, laboratory and field investigations, numerical modeling, telescopic observations, remote sensing, spacecraft instrumentation, and space mission development and operations.

discover planetary sciences

Graduate Program

The Department of Planetary Sciences offers multidisciplinary programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in planetary sciences.

Undergraduate Minor

The Department of Planetary Sciences offers an undergraduate minor in Planetary Sciences.

Astrobiology Minor

Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary field that combines astronomy, geology, biology and chemistry.


Cutting-Edge Research

The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is at the forefront of planetary studies, conducting research through astronomical observations, theoretical studies, spacecraft, and the studies of samples from space.

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Outreach at LPL

Faculty, staff, and students at LPL take every opportunity to share research and development with the community and to participate in community events whenever possible.