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 only state key laboratory in the field of astronomy and planetary sciences. The establishment of SKLplanets marks an important step of developing deep-space exploration, improving scientific and technological level in Macao, and promoting scientific and technological innovation of Guangdong-Hong kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) started to participate in China Lunar Exploration Project in 2005, involving data analysis and scientific research, and the Space Science Institute was built up in the end of 2011. In April 2014, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) officially approved the establishment of Lunar and Planetary Science Laboratory in MUST as a co-laboratory of CAS Key Laboratory of Lunar and Deep Space Exploration. The co-laboratory of CAS Key Laboratory of Lunar and Deep Space Exploration was established on November 19th, 2014 and Dean Chunli Bai of CAS personally visited Macau to host the opening ceremony.
The SKLplanets has been hosting almost 40 experts and scholars including leading figures and young talents from the well-known overseas institutions, include Chinese Academicians, Chair Professor, Distinguished Professors, 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 director is Chair Professor Keke Zhang. The director of the SKLplanets academic committee is Academician Ziyuan Ouyang (Institute of Geochemistry, CAS) and the deputy director of the SKLplanets academic committee is Academician Yongxin Pan (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, CAS).
Overall objective of SKLplanets: constructing a research center on planetary sciences with international influence, building an international academic exchange and cooperation center with high standards regarding to planetary sciences, participating in major projects of China’s deep space exploration, offering required scientific supports, training high-quality talents in planetary sciences, and making a research team with internationally competitive standards.
The SKLplanets research subjects mainly involve planetary physics, planetary geology and planetary chemistry. 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, as well as planetary formation and evolution. Focusing on the moon, Mars, near-Earth small bodies and gaseous 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 on planets, interplanetary space plasma, sampling/meteorite analysis.
Along with China’s strategy for deep space exploration, the SKLplanets has been performing various researches and achieved critical results. 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.