Sanjeev Gupta Presenting the Exo Mars Mission to a media delegation from Russia

Studying the planets and solid bodies of the Solar System - and beyond

Our research tackles a great many pressing scientific questions. We explore the dynamics of Earth, survey alien landforms on Mars and other rocky bodies, determine the compositions of dust grains preserved in meteorites and formed in giant, long-dead stars, and probe the processes and phenomena we see throughout our wider patch of space to reveal the secrets of the cosmos around us. 

Current and recent projects focus on:

  • the Chicxulub impact that wiped out the dinosaurs;
  • the resurfacing of Venus and possibility of life on Mars;
  • the cosmochemistry of meteorites;
  • the role of catastrophic flooding on Earth and Mars; and
  • how Earth's oceans have changed through time (in collaboration with our Climate and environment work).

Overall, our research reveals the workings of global systems in the past, present and, by extrapolation, the future, to understand why planetary bodies are the way they are and how their habitats and inhabitants came to be.

If you are interested in one of the projects listed below, we encourage you to contact the primary project supervisor or the alternative contact person for further information.

Current projects

Automated Crater Detection and Classification with Machine Learning [Info Sheet - Collins ACDC]

Supervisors: Professor Gareth Collins, Dr Navjot Kukreja (Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool), Associate Professor Nicholas Warner (Department of Geological Sciences, SUNY Geneseo, USA)

Decoding inner solar system bombardment from impact crater populations [Info Sheet - Collins Crater Scaling]

Supervisor: Professor Gareth Collins‌

Impact Processing of Planetary Crust [‌Info Sheet - Collins Impact Porosity]

Supervisors: Professor Gareth Collins, Mark Wieczorek (IPGP)

Meteoroid fragmentation in planetary atmospheres and the formation of crater clusters on Earth and Mars [Info Sheet - Collins Meteoroid Fragmentation]

Supervisor: Professor Gareth Collins

Modelling the Giant South Pole-Aitken basin [Info Sheet - Collins SPA]

Supervisor: Professor Gareth Collins

Multiscale modeling of compaction of primitive solar system materials [Info Sheet - Collins Multiscale]

Supervisors: Professor Gareth Collins, Dr Tom Davison, Professor Phil Bland (Curtin)

The evolution of the Kasei Valles outflow channel: A window into the changing palaeo-climate of Mars [Info Sheet - Davis UKSA Kasei Studentship]

Supervisors: Dr Joel Davis, Professor Sanjeev Gupta, Dr Peter Grindrod (Dept. of Earth Science, Natural History Museum), Assistant Professor Gaia Stucky de Quay (Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Microspherules in the geological record [Info Sheet - Genge Microspherules]

Supervisor: Dr Matthew Genge

Using Terrestrial Basalts as Analogues for Extra-terrestrial Volcanism; implications for off-world construction & in-situ resource utilisation [Info Sheet - Genge Terrestrial Basalts Analogues for Extra-terrestrial Volcanism]

Supervisors: Dr Natasha Stephen (The Geological Society of London), Dr Matthew Genge (Imperial College London)

Earth-based Geophysical Investigation of the Near Subsurface Structures for Future in situ Resource Utilization on the Moon [Info Sheet - Kim Planetary Analog ISRU Moon]

Supervisors: Dr Doyeon Kim, Dr Ian Bastow, Associate Professor Nick Schmerr (University of Maryland)

Lunar seismology: from Apollo mission to the Farside Seismic Suite and beyond [Info Sheet - Kim Lunar Seismology]

Supervisors: Dr Doyeon Kim, Professor Gareth Collins, Professor Tom Pike (EEE), Dr Mark Panning (JPL)

Probing Mars’ interior structure and planetary seismicity/tectonics [Info Sheet - Kim Mars Interior Seismicity]

Supervisors: Dr Doyeon Kim, Dr Ana-Catalina Plesa (DLR), Dr, Mark Wieczorek (IPGP)

Understanding surface processes on Venus: in support of the EnVision mission [Info Sheet - Mason Surface Processes Venus]

Supervisors:‌ Dr Philippa Mason, Professor Richard Ghail (Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway UK), Dr Gareth Roberts

Experimentally determining the role of low pressures (< 1 GPa) on the fidelity of Magentic Recording in Rocks and Meteorites [Info Sheet - Muxworthy Determining Magnetic Recording in Rock and Meteorites]

Supervisors: Prof. Adrian Muxworthy (Imperial) and Prof. Tom Mitchell (UCL)


Determining ancient field intensities from Chemical remanent Magnetisations in Rocks and Meteorites [Info Sheet - Muxworthy Chemical Remanent Magnetisations in Rocks and Meteorites]

Supervisors: Prof. Adrian Muxworthy (Imperial College), Prof. Dominik Weiss (Imperial College) & Dr. David Heslop (ANU, Canberra)





Quantifying the Role of Low Pressures (< 1 GPa) on the Fidelity of Magnetic recording in Rocks and Meteorites [Info Sheet - Muxworthy Quantifying Magnetic Recording in Rocks and Meteorites]

Supervisors: Prof. Adrian Muxworthy (Imperial College), Prof. Wyn Williams (University of Edinburgh) and Prof. Tom Mitchell (UCL)

Mixing and Volatile Depletion in the Early Solar System [Info Sheet - Rehkämper Mixing Volatile Depletion ESS]

Supervisor: Professor Mark Rehkämper

The origin of Earth’s volatiles – new constraints from isotopic analyses of meteorites [Info Sheet - Rehkämper Origin Earth Volatiles]

Supervisor: Professor Mark Rehkämper

Astrobiology and meteorites from the early Solar System [Info Sheet - Sephton Astrobiology]

Supervisors: Professor Mark A. Sephton, Dr Jonathan Watson, with collaboration opportunities (Dr Christian Potiszil, Okayama University Japan)

Extracting Records of Life on Mars [Info Sheet - Sephton Life on Mars]

Supervisors: Professor Mark A. Sephton, Dr Jonathan Watson

Life Detection at Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa [Info Sheet - Sephton Europa]

Supervisors: Professor Mark A. Sephton, Dr Jonathan Watson

Organic Preservation in Jezero Crater – Site of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover [Info Sheet - Sephton Jezero Crater]

Supervisors: Professor Mark A. Sephton, Dr Jonathan Watson

Recognising Life in Samples Returned from Mars [Info Sheet - Sephton Life Detector]

Supervisors: Professor Mark A. Sephton, Dr Simon Davis, David Bell (Protium)