At MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), we are driven to answer profound questions about the natural world and our place in the universe, and to address some of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. What causes climate change and how can we mitigate its impact? How do we quantify natural hazard and risk—can we predict earthquakes? How did life evolve on Earth and does it exist on other planets? How fast is the environment changing—are we approaching another mass extinction? We draw on fundamental research to guide policy while training the next wave of thought leaders who will help safeguard our future.

Four complementary themes drive our research:

EARTH. Examining the origin, evolution, and future of our planet, we investigate how landscapes form and how environmental systems like the oceans change over time. This fundamental research also allows us to address practical issues—like exploring for natural resources and safely extracting them from the ground, and expanding our ability to forecast, mitigate, and adapt to natural hazards.

Read more about EARTH

PLANETS. Seeking to understand the Earth within the context of our solar system—and the universe beyond—we explore planetary accretion, magnetic fields, formation of climates and atmospheres, asteroid impacts, and the potential for life on planets orbiting distant stars.

Read more about PLANETS

CLIMATE. By delving into the history, mechanics, stability, and future trajectory of Earth’s climate, we study the boundaries and resilience of the entire climate system, revealing the complex interplay between atmosphere, oceans, land, ice, and life.

Read more about CLIMATE

LIFE. Probing ancient rocks for biological signatures, we reconstruct prehistoric environments to understand how life evolved within them. Our discoveries explain how the biosphere affects climate, the causes of mass extinctions, and how ancient organisms shaped landscapes, while also developing techniques to detect life on other planets.

Read more about LIFE

Find out more about EAPS Research: HERE

New Space for Earth and the Environment

As MIT campaigns for a better world and transforms its campus, the renovation and expansion of Building 54 will establish a central beacon for climate and oceanographic research and environmental innovation at MIT. Along with new climate science labs for EAPS in Building 4, the creation of a synergistic hub for EAPS, MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative, and the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) Joint Program in Oceanography, launches an exciting new era for Earth sciences and environmental education and research that will:

- Advance MIT’s quest to understand complex earth and environmental systems and inform policy on climate change, air pollution and energy.
- Accelerate campus-wide efforts to address today’s environmental challenges and the risks they pose to sustainable human life on Earth
- Enhance campus and student life with LEED-certified labs, classrooms, and meeting spaces to support students and faculty at the nexus of environmental innovation and learning
- Keep MIT at the vanguard of earth systems and climate science research for generations

Find out more about investing in our future.

To learn more about Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, or to support EAPS capital project or students, please contact: Angela Ellis, EAPS Senior Development Officer at 617-253-5796 or


EAPS Scope 2017-2018

The Outer Limits: Nothing sparks the imagination quitelike a star-studded view of the sky above. From distant stars and exoplanets to the asteroids and planetary bodies of our solar system, EAPS planetary scientists stand at the forefront of their field, driving innovations in techniques and technology to discover the origins of the universe.

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EAPS Scope 2016-2017

All Facets of Life: Whether scouring the geologic record for clues to ancient organisms, developing computational models to examine the interplay of the biosphere and climate, or building next-generation telescopes in the search for habitable exoplanets, EAPS scientists seek to understand the intricate mechanisms of life.

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EAPS Scope 2015-2016

The Climate Issue: As a global leader in climate science EAPS is unique in its interdisciplinary approach. This issue of EAPS Scope is packed with stories about how our broad range of research and collaboration are helping us gain a deeper understanding of the history and future of climates—from here on earth to planets far, far away.

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