The discovery in 1995 of the first giant planet outside our solar system by Swiss astronomers spawned a unique revolution in modern astronomy. Since then, the progress has been such that the field is now shifting from an era of discovery to one of physical and chemical characterisation. The NCCR PlanetS allows responding to this shift by providing an interdisciplinary research programme dedicated to the study of the origin, evolution, and characterisation of planets.
Established by the Swiss National Science Foundation in June 2014, the NCCR PlanetS brings together researchers from the Universities of Berne (Leading House), Geneva (co-Leading House), and Zürich as well as of the ETHs Zürich and Lausanne. It is structured in research projects and platforms which provide the structuring elements of the NCCR.
In addition to scientific research, the NCCR PlanetS assumes a coordinating role in a vast range of activities connected to planetary sciences ranging from the definition of a national roadmap for instrumentation and space missions to the promotion of young scientists with a special focus on women. It also carries out a large multi-regional education and outreach programme.
Ultimately, PlanetS lays the foundations of a Swiss Institute of Planetary Sciences (SIPS) that will carry on these activities beyond the lifetime of the NCCR.