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The Institute for Planets and Exoplanets (iPLEX) is an academic consortium bridging the interests of UCLA faculty, researchers and students in the departments of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Launched in 2011, the institute’s goal was and is to promote and advance planetary science research by means of interdisciplinary collaboration.  Research in the planetary sciences at UCLA spans many topics, including, but not limited to planetary system formation, growth and structure, physics of interiors, planetary geology, atmospheres and oceans, primitive bodies, extrasolar planet detection, magnetic fields, and circumstellar debris disks.  iPLEX membership at UCLA includes faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and research scientists, and graduate students across three UCLA departments.

In addition to fostering collaborations between departments at UCLA, we aim to develop inter-institutional partnerships, both at the individual and institutional level. One way we attempt to achieve this is through hosting conferences and workshops, which draw planetary scientists from worldwide locations to the UCLA campus and provide researchers and students alike with the opportunity to collaborate on current planetary science.  Additionally, iPLEX and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena have signed an institutional partnership Memorandum of Understanding that facilitates communication and collaboration for UCLA and JPL scientists alike.

Young students experience planetary geology concepts during hands-on activities at UCLA’s Exploring Your Universe event.

iPLEX is interested in sharing the fascinating world of planetary science with local and national communities and schools. Our education and public outreach program includes private and public events during which UCLA scientists and students demonstrate planetary science concepts with hands-on activities, from making their own comets to seeing a UCLA planetarium show to observing the Moon with powerful telescopes. In addition, iPLEX hosts the UCLA Meteorite Gallery, which has one of the largest meteorite collections in the United States. For more information about ongoing outreach and Meteorite Gallery activities, visit the iPLEX Outreach Event Calendar.