Vision Statement

To expand scientific knowledge of Earth, the space environment, solar system bodies, and the wider cosmos, we:

  • Pursue, lead, develop, and execute a diverse range of high-impact space science and astronomy projects.
  • Lead cutting-edge and agile engineering efforts to develop missions and state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and operate flight systems efficiently.
  • Train, educate, and mentor the next generation of space scientists, engineers, and staff in a supportive, inclusive, and collaborative environment where they can realize their full potential.


Expand our capability to publish and advance ground-breaking research, while maintaining our leadership position in space sciences.​
Grow our capacity to execute novel space research missions and instruments through innovations in space science and technology.
Foster increased collaboration with University departments and train the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
Manage, develop, test and integrate our funded flight missions and instruments, and see them launched as proposed, while competing to win more, in alignment with our Core Competencies.
Secure increased resources to achieve our Vision by seeking out and establishing a variety of funding and collaborations (government, commercial and private).

History of SSL

The Regents of the University of California established the Space Sciences Laboratory at Berkeley on April 17, 1959, about 18 months after Russia launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I. Professor Samuel Silver was appointed the first Director and the initial research, performed at the Richmond Field Station, concerned space physiology. Between 1963 and 1966, the first space hardware built at the laboratory was flown by Professor Kinsey Anderson’s group on 11 different satellites to measure plasmas in the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts. In 1969, infrared spectrometers, built by Professor George Pimentel’s group, flew to Mars on Mariners VI and VII. This work inaugurated the illustrious history of the Space Sciences Lab. Since then, instruments have been built at SSL to fly on more than 100 satellites. In addition, more than 150 balloons have been flown to measure electric fields, auroral x-rays, hard x-rays and gamma rays, cosmic rays and the cosmic microwave background. And more than two dozen rockets have been built and flown to measure auroral particles, UV emissions, and solar flare nuclei.

For more information, follow the links below:

On this date, the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California turned 50 years old. To celebrate its birthday and review the contributions of the lab, there was a two-day symposium on August 29 and 30, 2009. Take a look at the Program where we heard about everything from the upper atmosphere to the terrestrial magnetosphere, to the moon and planets, to the sun, to the heliosphere, and to astrophysics, including cosmology. We also heard the latest in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, detector design, and other topics. Posters were solicited from attendees describing the “good old days,” current research, and more.

In 1959, only two years after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and ignited the space race, the University of California, Berkeley, created a laboratory devoted to space science that has grown to be one of the most active academic space research labs in the country. 2009 UC Berkeley News article

Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Oakland. Read more

Physicist Robert Peichung Lin, a former director of the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, who designed and built dozens of instruments to study solar flares, the magnetic fields on the surface of the moon and Mars and the plasma environment of Earth, died suddenly of a stroke on Saturday, Nov. 17.


Below is a video of our SSL timeline (history of SSL), and below that is an interactive version of the same timeline.

You can click on the interactive timeline below to zoom in on specifc times or events.