Lunar and Planetary Sciences

The State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Science (hereafter referred to as SKLplanets) (Macau University of Science and Technology) was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and established on October 8th, 2018.It is the first state key laboratory in the field of astronomy and planetary sciences. The SKLplanets research subjects mainly involve planetary physics, planetary geology, planetary chemistry, and planetary biology. The research directions contain planetary internal structures, planetary internal dynamics, planetary surface physics, planetary topography, magnetic field and gravity field physics of planets, planetary meteorite chemistry, planetary formation and evolution, as well as planetary habitability. Focusing on the moon, Mars, near-Earth small bodies and gas giant planets, the main research content is using numerical simulation, data analysis, high-resolution observation, experimental research and other means to investigate the internal structure and gravity field of planets, the dynamics of internal fluid or magnetic fluid in planets, impact craters, planetary topography, physical characteristics of planetary surface, atmospheric dynamics, interplanetary space plasma, sampling/meteorite analysis.

 

There are around 100 researchers and postgraduate students in SKLplanets, with 40 researchers including fellows of the US National Academy of Sciences, foreign associates of the US National Academy of Engineering, fellows of the Royal Society, fellows of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, fellows of International Academy of Astronautics, Academia Sinica Members, Chair Professors, Professors, Distinguished Guest Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors. This research team possesses reasonable structure of discipline and echelon, as well as strong research strength, which can be seen as a core team in scientific application researches of deep space exploration.  

The SKLplanets has established master's and doctoral degrees in both "Space Information Technology" and "Earth and Planetary Sciences"; a new master's degree in "Space Big Data Analysis" is being under preparation.

Currently, there are five centers in the SKLplanets, namely, Center for Sample Analysis, Center for Small Planetary Bodies, Center for Planetary Environment Simulation and Internal Dynamics, Supercomputing Center and Science Communication Center. The SKLplanets joins hands with the leading institutes in Guangdong and Hong Kong to establish the Center for Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Greater Bay Area.  The SKLplanets has also cooperated with relevant institutes at home and abroad to jointly research the Macau Science Satellite, as a gift for the 20th anniversary of the return of Macao. This satellite will become the world's first near-equatorial electromagnetic satellite to monitor the temporal and spatial changes of geomagnetic fields in the South Atlantic Anomaly. The research findings will provide new understanding for the origin of geomagnetic fields and new information on the spacecraft space operation safety.

 

Along with China’s strategy for deep space exploration, the SKLplanets has been performing various researches and achieved critical results. For example, a significant breakthrough in research of the accretion history of the Moon was achieved recently, offering new perspectives to research on the impact history of the solar system and the discriminated early accretion of the Earth and the Moon. This work, titled “Reconstructing the late accretion history of the Moon”, was published in the world’s leading academic journal Nature. The shallow structure of the Chang’E 3 landing area was analyzed for the first time and the unique geological features were found in the patrol area. This work was published in the world’s leading academic journal Science, which was the first Science paper for Chang’E Missions. The logically consistent, physically correct and mathematically rigorous circulation model and inversion method were developed for Jupiter, and two possible structures of Jupiter’s circulation patterns were proposed based on the Juno gravity field data. The new type of volcanic geomorphology, the negative topographic circumferential dome, was recognized for the first time in the world. The work was selected as one of the Highlight papers by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and was reported in detail in one of its journals. Also, the effect of solar winds on the wake magnetic fields close to the lunar surface was first discovered, which was selected as one of the Highlights in the current issue. Relevant findings have been published in the renowned journals including Nature, Science, PNAS, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geophysical Research Letters, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Scientific Reports. In 2012, the project titled "Analysis and Research of Data on Chang 'E Moon Landing Mission" won the third prize of the science and technology award in Macao. In June 2016, the other project named “Scientific Discovery of Data on Chang 'E Multi-Band Moon Landing Mission" won the first prize of the science and technology award in Macao.

 

Lunar impact structure and impact simulations for the Moon’s impact history

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1359-0