About the Center

Space science is the province of multiple disciplines. Understanding the formation and evolution of the solar system, the galaxy, or the universe is equally the task of the cosmochemist who measures isotopic effects in meteorites, the astronomer who observes planetary atmospheres or interstellar dust, and the astrophysicist who studies high energy emissions and gravitational effects of neutron star mergers.

Faculty, researchers, and students of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences belong to one of the traditional science departments, yet overlap in their research. Members of the Center enjoy the diversity of research being conducted and consider the eclectic nature of the Center to be one of the most important aspects of the space sciences program at Washington University.

The McDonnell Center plays a key role at Washington University through endowed professorships, supporting acquisition of sophisticated instrumentation, hiring new faculty, supporting postdoctoral and graduate student fellowships, administering visiting scientist programs, seeding innovative research, and fostering wide-reaching collaborations.  

As we look to the future, space science is central to humanity’s aspiration for knowledge as we seek to explore and comprehend our surroundings and our beginnings.     

XL-Calibur hanging from

XL-Calibur telescope launched to study black holes

Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have launched a balloon-borne telescope to unlock the secrets of astrophysical black holes and neutron stars, some of the most extreme objects in the universe.

In a laboratory setting, experimental petrologists at WashU recreated the magnetizing reactions that could be causing the mysterious, light-colored features on the Moon’s surface, known as lunar swirls. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State U)

Moon ‘swirls’ could be magnetized by unseen magmas

Mysterious, light-colored swirls on Moon’s surface could be rocks magnetized by magma activity underground, WashU laboratory experiments confirm

Michael Nowak

Nowak named Associate Director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences

The McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences has named Michael Nowak, research professor of physics, as the new associate director.

Tomas Collado

Collado named an Astronaut Scholar

Tomás Collado, a rising senior studying mechanical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named an Astronaut Scholar, one of the nation’s most prestigious STEM fellowships.

Meet Our Partners

Faculty Focus

Tansu Daylan 

Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe

Tansu Daylan is finishing up his first academic year at Washington University and with the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences. His research focuses on dark matter and exoplanets.

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Tansu Daylan