First meeting of the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Board of Trustees, January 29, 1902

Andrew Carnegie establishes the Carnegie Institution for Science, then called the Carnegie Institution of Washington, with a $10 million gift.

Carnegie investigator Louis Bauer stands outside a tent during field work pertaining to terrestrial magnetism in Colombo, Ceylon.

Carnegie funds Louis Agricola Bauer and the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism to map the variations in the Earth's magnetic field. From 1905-1945, DTM undertook a World Magnetic Survey with 200 land-based expeditions and ten ocean cruises.

Geophysical Laboratory scientist Arthur Day and a colleague experiment using an electric arc furnace, circa 1906.

Carnegie establishes the Geophysical Laboratory to investigate the physical and chemical properties of rocks and minerals.

The Carnegie ship under full sail.

The nonmagnetic ship Carnegie is launched to survey the Earth's magnetic field at sea.

Investigators collecting gases in soft-nosed tubes at Kilauea.

Carnegie's Frank Perret and collaborators collect volcanic gases at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano and help establish the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the edge of the Kilauea caldera.

Two men inspect glass plates at the Bausch and Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, NY.

Scientists at Carnegie's Geophysical Lab modernize American optical glass-making industry during WWI.

Erskine Williamson and Leason Adams.

Erskine Williamson and Leason Adams determine density structure of Earth's interior and metallic core, helping to lay the groundwork for the modern study of planetary interiors.

The Evolution of the Igneous Rocks and related samples.

Carnegie petrologist Norman Bowen publishes The Evolution of the Igneous Rocks, the most influential book on petrology in the 20th Century.

Scientific drilling by the Geophysical Laboratory at Yellowstone National Park.

Carnegie scientists E.T. Allen and A.L. Day drill the first scientific boreholes in Yellowstone National Park to explore the geyser basins. Six years later, Carnegie published the classic Hot Springs of the Yellowstone National Park.

Odd Dahl (on ladder), Calvin F. Brown, Lawrence R. Hafstad, and Merle A. Tuve with two-meter electrostatic generator and cascade high-voltage tube.

Carnegie physicists confirm the existence of the strong nuclear force using the two-meter Van de Graaff electrostatic generator.

Group at fission demonstrated at DTM on 28 January 1939.

Uranium fission is demonstrated at Carnegie's research campus in Washington, D.C. just six weeks after the discovery of fission by German scientists.

A proximity fuze at the left compared with a clockwork fuze at right.

Carnegie scientists develop the proximity fuze, aiding the Allies' World War II efforts.

Baltimore Sun article about the Jupiter radio emissions discovery.

Bernard Burke and Kenneth Franklin detect the first radio emissions from another planet­ Jupiter. The discovery marked the birth of planetary radio astronomy and opened a new window into the study of planetary magnetospheres.

A truck with seismic equipment deployed for explosion studies in Peru.

Carnegie Andes Expedition during International Geophysical Year initiates collaborative geoscience research in South America that continues today.

Carnegie astronomer W. Kent Ford with the Perkins Telescope at Lowell Observatory.

Installation of the Carnegie image tubes begins at observatories worldwide, allowing existing telescopes to see farther than ever before.

Vera Rubin at Lowell Observatory with Kent Ford in white helmet.

Vera Rubin and Kent Ford establish the initial confirmation of the existence of dark matter.

Diamond anvil.

Ho-Kwang Mao and Peter Bell break the megabar barrier using a diamond-anvil cell, recreating in the lab the extreme pressures that exist at the very edge of the boundary between the Earth's mantle and core.

Installation of a borehole strainmeter in Japan.

Carnegie seismologists detect slow, silent earthquakes in Japan's lzu peninsula. The discovery was made with the Sacks-Evertson borehole strainmeter, an instrument developed at Carnegie to measure minute changes in the strain of rocks.

Vera Rubin and Kent Ford.

Vera Rubin, Kent Ford, and Norbert Thonnard solidify the confirmation of the existence of dark matter with data from additional galaxies.

Vera Rubin.

Vera Rubin is awarded the National Medal of Science for her "significant contributions to the realization that the universe is more complex and more mysterious than had been imagined."

George Wetherill.

George Wetherill receives the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the development of radiometric age-dating techniques and theoretical models simulating the evolution of the inner solar system.

Artist’s concept of GJ180d.

Carnegie is named to the inaugural class of the NASA Astrobiology Institutes, established to address fundamental problems like How does life begin and evolve? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?

Paul Butler.

Paul Butler initiates observational exoplanet research at Carnegie using precision radial velocity method. Butler leads the discovery of 70 of the first 100 extrasolar planets detected.

Perspective view of Mercury's topography.

MESSENGER Mission to Mercury is launched. Carnegie's Sean Solomon is the project's principal investigator and Larry Nittler the deputy principal investigator.


Carnegie scientists discover the world's oldest diamonds, the inclusions in which function as time capsules that record ancient movements of continents and the origins of plate tectonics.

Robert Hazen.

Robert Hazen and colleagues introduce "Mineral Evolution" (and later "Mineral Ecology") as a new framework for understanding the formation, occurrence, and properties of minerals in the Earth and Solar System.

Deep Carbon Observatory Summer School Yellowstone National Park.

The Deep Carbon Observatory, an international ten-year mega project headquartered at Carnegie, is launched to investigate the nature of carbon in Earth's deep interior.

Erik Hauri.

Erik Hauri leads research that discovers water in the Moon's interior.

2012 VP113.

Scott Sheppard announces the discovery of 2012 VP113, then the most-distant known object in the Solar System, kicking off the hunt for a ninth planet lurking on the fringes of our Solar System.

Artistic rendering of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) facilities, renamed the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, against a simulated night sky.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is renamed the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in honor of the late Carnegie astronomer whose research confirmed the existence of dark matter.

Miguel Alzate, Lara Wagner, and Gaspar Monsalve install MUSICA stations during fieldwork in Colombia

A team led by Carnegie's Lara Wagner is awarded A $2.7 million multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional NSF-Frontiers of Earth Science grant to study an active flat slab in the Colombia Andes.

AEThER logo.

The interdisciplinary, multi-institution AEThER project is launched to understand the chemical makeup of our galaxy's most common planets with a goal of developing a framework for detecting chemical signatures of life on distant worlds.

Rendering of the Magellan Infrared Multi-object Spectrograph (MIRMOS).

Carnegie astronomer-led teams are awarded funding from the Heising-Simons Foundation for MIRMOS and MagNIFIES, two groundbreaking instruments that will help reveal galaxy evolution and exoplanet formation and atmospheric makeup in unprecedented detail.