The Space Science Institute (SSI) is a research and education 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a vision to expand humankind's understanding and appreciation of planet Earth, our Solar System, and the universe beyond. Society benefits from the pursuit of new knowledge - the more we understand planetary systems and star forming regions, the more we understand our own planet. SSI’s primary purposes are to (a) provide a place where scientists can be most productive and develop important research ideas, and (b) share the joy of science and educate communities nationwide.
We believe that the future of space science (and discovery and invention in general) in the United States depends heavily on:
- A strong research infrastructure.
- A scientifically literate populace that supports investment in research.
- A pipeline of future science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) professionals.
The key to our approach is that we offer the full continuum of discovery and education – we conduct world-class scientific research and we make it accessible to a broad population.
Research is the foundation of SSI's work - it harnesses human curiosity and it ensures that SSI operates at the forefront of space science. SSI's research team consists of a diverse group of astronomers, physicists, geologists, and planetary scientists. While SSI researchers work on individual projects with unique goals, each project contributes to the overarching purpose of improving the understanding of chemical and physical processes in our Solar System and the universe beyond. SSI scientists are key team members on high-profile robotic and spacecraft missions for NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as for the exoplanet finding space observatory Kepler, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and the Hubble Space Telescope.
SSI brings science to the public in innovative, relevant ways to ensure that space research and education will thrive for decades. We specialize in developing programs for informal STEM learning environments (libraries, museums, and the Internet) and foster connections between "K through gray" educators and scientists. Our programs span a range of audience needs and delivery methods, including traveling museum exhibitions; digital games and apps; award-winning educational films, videos, and websites; hands-on teaching resources and activities; and professional development workshops.
SSI is in the "inspiration" business. The impact of our research and education programs is increased access to STEM learning for an audience that is cross-generational and often underserved. We don’t know who will be inspired to be a scientist, engineer, flight operations specialist, or maybe just a person who reads the paper with interest every day. What we do know is that our programs have the potential to ignite their curiosity and motivate them to continue learning.