Macquarie University Planetary Research Centre

Macquarie University Planetary Research Centre

Macquarie University Planetary Research Centre

Bringing together leading researchers in planetary research to address fundamental problems in planetary science and exploration.

Planetary science is by its nature a hybrid discipline. It encapsulates basic physics and astronomy, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and remote sensing of planetary surfaces, including Earth. Additionally, engineering underpins many of the practical aspects of planetary science, from instrumentation, to communications, and space and robotic technologies.

The centre’s primary focus is to bring together these cross-disciplinary streams under an overarching research theme – the exploration, analysis, and monitoring of planets, including Earth, to understand their formation and evolution.  

Mars Viking

This incorporates both upstream fundamental research in planetary evolution, and downstream applications in engineering and technology development, including the intersection of engineering and remote sensing/geophysical instrumentation, and in Earth monitoring.

This focus will be realised by promoting activities that encourage the development of the cross-stream research directions, including:

  • supporting regular invited speakers from each discipline for centre-wide seminars
  • organising a planetary science workshop/symposium each year, to promote planetary science applications nationally, and enhance the visibility of the centre
  • support the development of cross-department student projects, at the HDR, MRes, and undergraduate internship levels, to further cross-disciplinary research
  • provide administrative and logistical support for both competitive grant applications, and in particular for competitive fellowship applicants
  • supporting student development and conference attendance.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Our research strengths

The Macquarie University Planetary Research Centre is a collaboration between the Departments of Earth and Planetary Science, Physics and Astronomy, Environmental Sciences, and Engineering. The Centre brings together leading researchers in these areas to address fundamental problems in planetary science and exploration.

Our research strengths include:

  • Studies of the formation of planetary systems (Wardle)
  • Detection of and characterisation of exoplanets (Schwab)
  • Interaction between planets and stars (De Marco)
  • Modelling planetary evolution and internal structure (O’Neill, Afonso, Zhang)
  • Acquisition and processing of remote planetary datasets (O’Neill, Afonso, Chang)
  • Geochemistry, cosmochemistry and microstructures of meteorites and planetary bodies (Schaefer, Rushmer, Turner, Piazolo)
  • High pressure experiments under planetary interior conditions (Clark, Rushmer, Foley, Maynard-Casey (Adjunct, ANSTO))
  • Rheology and phase behaviour of ices in the outer solar system (Piazolo, Maynard-Casey)
  • The evolution and detection of microbial life throughout Earth’s history, and on planetary surfaces (George, Kennedy)
  • Engineering communications systems, power management, and robotics (Heimlich, Inglis)
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