Crab Nebula from Hubble
NASA Goddard
One of the leading centers for astronomical research in the world


From the Apollo 11 moon landing to the Mars Exploration Rovers to Fast Radio Burst and gravity wave discoveries, Cornell astronomers have long been at the center of exciting astronomy. Cornell faculty have roles in almost three-quarters of active NASA missions, and are leading the construction of the Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope in Chile, while the interdisciplinary Carl Sagan Institute is actively searching for signs of life on other worlds.

Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CCAPS)

The Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CCAPS) fosters cooperative research among astronomers, engineers, geologists and other researchers with specialties relevant to space sciences. Connected to and contained within the Department of Astronomy, CCAPS administers research grants and contracts across several Cornell departments. Research areas include black holes and neutron stars; cosmology and the distant universe; disks and jets; extreme physics and astrophysics of compact objects; galaxies across the universe; and planetary exploration and exoplanets.

James Webb Space Telescope
Primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope stands inside a cleanroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA/Chris Gunn

Ongoing research initiatives

Rendering of the Dragonfly Johns Hopkins APL


Cornell astronomers have roles in almost three-quarters of all active NASA missions, including the Perseverance Mars2020 and Insight missions currently on Mars; the Juno mission exploring Jupiter; the forthcoming Europa Clipper mission to an ocean world, the James Webb Space Telescope that will search for exoplanets; as well as the Dragonfly mission to Titan.

Explore all of the current missions

Artist rendering of the Magellan telescope

The Carl Sagan Institute

The Carl Sagan Institute is creating a forensic toolkit to find life on planets in our Solar System and beyond using multidisciplinary research. Researchers at CSI explore planets, moons and planetary systems, including how they form and evolve, and whether they can harbor life.

Learn more about the Carl Sagan Institute

Astronomy disk

CCAT-prime/Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope 

Led by Cornell, the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope-prime (CCAT-prime) collaboration is building the Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope, capable of mapping the sky at submillimeter and millimeter wavelengths. The telescope will provide insights into “cosmic dawn” – when the first stars were born after the Big Bang – as well as how stars and galaxies form and the dark-energy-driven expansion of the universe.