The MIT Kavli Institute (MKI) for Astrophysics and Space Research is a world-leading institution for research in astrophysics. First established in 1963 as the Center for Space Research (CSR), MKI has cultivated a half-century of expertise deploying advanced technologies to support the scholarly inquiry of MIT’s faculty, research and technical staff, and student body.
In 2004, a generous gift from the Kavli Foundation supported the merger of the CSR and MIT’s Division of Astrophysics, creating an intellectual home for interdisciplinary astronomy- and space-oriented research across the departments of Physics, Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and Aeronautics/Astronautics. MKI supports the research of 180 scientists including 37 resident faculty members, and collaborates on select programs with MIT Lincoln Labs.
A unique part of MKI’s legacy is its technical heritage of flight programs spanning several decades. These began in the early 1970’s with satellite experiments to study the Sun, the Earth’s magnetosphere, astronomical X-ray sources, and the interplanetary plasma on the Voyager spacecrafts, which have now left the Solar System. We are major partners in three operational NASA missions, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the NICER experiment on the International Space Station, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Instrumentation for each of these flight programs was conceived and built at MKI.
On the ground, MKI hosts MIT’s research in gravitational wave astronomy through the NSF-sponsored LIGO experiment, for which Prof. Rainer Weiss’ was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. We also support MIT’s partnership in the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes, and have supplied three facility instruments to the observing community with a new NSF-sponsored hyper-spectral imager (LLAMAS) now under construction. We support receiver development for the HERA radio telescope (sponsored by NSF and the Moore Foundation), which seeks to map the distribution of neutral hydrogen in the early universe, as the very first stars came to light.
MKI seeks to advance understanding in all areas of astrophysics. We invite you to learn more about us and welcome your interest in this exploration. Please feel free to email us for more information.