SKLPlanets Overview

The State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Science (SKLPlanets) at the Macau University of Science and Technology was officially established in 2018 with the approval of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China. Currently, it represents the only national key laboratory in the field of astronomy and planetary sciences in China. The establishment of the SKLPlanets is part of the country’s growing drive towards the development of deep space exploration, the promotion of technological innovation within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the promotion of the science and technology sectors in Macau. The SKLPlanets currently employs more than forty academics. This diverse group includes distinguished professors, professors, special-appointed professors, special-appointed consultants, associate professors, special-appointed associate professors, and assistant professors, among others. Together, they form a strong team of one hundred people including experts and scholars from prestigious research institutions, both national and international. Professor Zong Qiugang serves as the director of the SKLPlanets.

The overall goal of SKLPlanets is to establish itself as a leading planetary science research centre with global influence and at the forefront of deep space exploration science, serving as a bridge and window for exchanges between China and the rest of the world. SKLPlanets strives to build an international high-level academic exchange and cooperation centre for planetary science, participate in major national deep space exploration projects, provide necessary scientific support, nurture top-tier talents in planetary sciences, build a globally competitive research team, and contribute to Macau's technological advancement through a diversified development.

SKLPlanets is gradually focusing on three research directions: planetary environment and habitability, planetary formation and evolution, and space/surface exploration.

The main research objectives include studies on the near-Earth space, the Moon, Mars, small celestial bodies, gas giant planets, planetary magnetic fields, the entire solar layer, encompassing radiation belts around the Earth, solar wind interactions with the Moon and planets (including small celestial bodies), boundary detection of the solar layer, planetary internal structures and gravity fields, planetary internal fluid and magnetohydrodynamics, planetary surface impact craters, planetary topography, planetary surface material properties, planetary surface environment, planetary atmospheric dynamics, sampling/meteorite analysis, astrobiology, forms of life under extreme environments, terrestrial analogue location of astrobiological relevance, space biotechnology, and other research topics.

Operating within the national framework of research targets and drive, SKLPlanets has undertaken several basic research projects in lunar and planetary science and achieved significant results. In 2012, the SKLPlanets' research project "Analysis and Research of Chang'e Lunar Exploration Data" won the third prize in the Natural Science Award of Macau Science and Technology Awards. In June 2016, the research project "Scientific Discoveries based on Multi-band Lunar Data from the Chang'e Mission" won the first prize in the Natural Science Award of Macau Science and Technology Awards. In 2020, the research project "Study of Surface Features and Internal Structures of the Moon, Asteroids, and Gas Giant Planets" won the first prize in the Natural Science Award of Macau Science and Technology Awards. In 2022, the research project "Scientific Discoveries in the Study of Lunar and Martian Surface Environments" won the second prize in the Natural Science Award of Macau Science and Technology Awards. In recent years, the SKLPLanets personnel have actively participated in Mars missions. In November 2022, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued a document, and six national ministries awarded the SKLPlanets’ Mars atmosphere team the title of "Advanced Collective for the First Mars Exploration Mission" and awarded Assistant Professor Xiao Jing the title of "Advanced Individual for the First Mars Exploration Mission". In 2023, the project "HyperSpacEx - Medical and Biotechnological Potential of Fungi in Hypergravity for Space Exploration" was awarded for the HyperGES, a program offered by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Recently, in January 2024, during the "Presentation Ceremony of Medals, Awards, and Certificates of Honor in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China for the Year 2023" the SKLPlanets was awarded the 2023 Professional Achievement Medal.