History of LPL

See also materials available from the LPL Library and the Space Imagery Center. More information about LPL is available under About LPL.

A Brief History of LPL

In 1960, Gerard P. Kuiper founded the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in a tiny corner of the top floor of the Atmospheric Sciences Building. In 1965, with NASA funds, Kuiper began constructing the Planetary Sciences Building that now bears his name.

Department Heads and Directors

The Lunar and Planetary Lab has a rich history of department heads and directors who have led planetary science research and discovery for over 50 years.

Pioneers of Planetary Science

Manuscript collections that document important pioneers in the field of space exploration and planetary science. Chiefly comprised of scientists at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) and Steward Observatory.

Under Desert Skies

Under Desert Skies tells the story of how a small corner of Arizona became Earth's ambassador to space. From early efforts to reach the Moon to the first glimpses of Mars's bleak horizons and Titan's swirling atmosphere to the latest ambitious plans to touch an asteroid, LPL's history encompasses humanity's unfolding knowledge about our place in the universe.

Desert Moon

Desert Moon is a documentary about some of the ways that southern Arizona was involved with the early days of the lunar exploration program in the 1960s.

No Longer Points of Light

No Longer Points of Light compiles excerpts from more than fifty interviews, describing LPL’s remarkable journey from a small research organization to a leader in planetary science.

50th Anniversary

During the 50th anniversary year (2010), LPL held a series of events, including special public events, lectures by some of the alumni, and an anniversary weekend for those who have passed through LPL.

LPL: Its Founding and Early Years

In 1985, to celebrate the Centennial Year of the University of Arizona and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Associate Research Scientist Ewen Whitaker wrote the definitive history of LPL from the perspective of someone who was there at the beginning.

Lunar Links

With the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 2019, LPL joined with the community of Tucson in celebrating the history and future of lunar, and other space-based, research in southern Arizona.