We explore & discover

Scientists at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) bring the perspective of several disciplines to broad questions about nature. DTM's name comes from its original role to chart the Earth's magnetic field. This goal was largely accomplished by 1929. Since then, DTM has evolved to reflect the growing multi-disciplinary nature of the Earth, planetary, and astronomical sciences. Today, the historic goal remains to understand the physical Earth and the universe that is our home.

About our research

Upcoming Events

"How pore fluid effects drive strain localization and rapid weakening during earthquakes"
John Platt (DTM Weekly Seminar Series)
Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Clouds Outside the Solar System: New Observations of Brown Dwarfs"
John Gizis (DTM Weekly Seminar Series)
Thursday, September 4, 2014

More events

Latest articles and news

Larry Nittler is Part of the Stardust Research Team who Discovered 7 Grains from Outside our Solar System


Where did our solar system come from? In 2006, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft returned to Earth with samples of a comet’s dust grains containing clues that could help researchers answer this question. Now, almost a decade later, scores of scientists have researched these dust particles and identified 7 grains that most likely came from outside our solar system. 

In 1999, the Stardust spacecraft launched into space aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. It’s objective was to fly through the wake of comet Wild-2 near Jupiter and capture cometary dust from aerogel tiles and aluminum foils mounted on the front of a two-sided collector. In addition, collectors were mounted on the rear of the spacecraft to catch particles from the snowstorm of interstellar dust streaming through the galaxy. In 2006, Stardust flew by Earth and dropped by parachute the separate tennis racquet-sized comet and interstellar dust collectors. Since then, a research team consisting of 66 scientists from 7 different countries along with 30,000 citizen scientists, self-proclaimed “Dusters” using the online Stardust@home project, have been examining millions of microscopic images of interstellar dust.

DTM Staff Scientist Larry Nittler is the 13th among the 66 authors on Stardust’s paper in the August 15th issue of Science entitled, “Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft, detailing the results from Stardust.”

DTM Postdoctoral Fellowship Openings


DTM offers a variety of postdoctoral fellowship and associate positions. Fellows and associates can engage in a wide range of experiences that include designing and constructing specialized experimental devices; participating in seminars and symposia; and gathering and analyzing data. These projects are shaped to preserve maximum flexibility and to fit the scientific interests of both Staff Members and fellows. 

Fellows at DTM are regarded as scientific colleagues, free to chart their individual research agendas. Every fellow has access to the full staff of DTM and the other departments of the Carnegie Institution, as well as to a group of nonresident collaborators and visiting investigators from all parts of the world. Cooperating institutions, universities, government agencies, and private organizations provide further substantial resources for scholarship. There are also joint fellows of DTM and the Geophysical Laboratory in areas of mutual interest.

Go to our Postdoctoral Fellowships page to learn more about DTM's upcoming fellowship openings. 

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Image Gallery

DTM scientists regularly explore our planet and the universe. Along the way they capture images of stunning landscapes, geophysical processes and data visualizations.

Browse DTM’s online image gallery to share in the journey of scientific exploration and discovery.

Browse Gallery



DTM's Steve Shirey, Marion Garcon and Karen Smit participate in the Smithsonian's Science Education Academies for Teachers Summer workshop.

Scott S. Sheppard

Scott Sheppard and his colleague Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory discover one of the most distant comets to show activity.

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Job Opening: Geophysics Staff Scientist. Click here to learn more.