Specialist Node > Space Materials and Resources

We have wide-ranging expertise related to characterising and resourcing materials from and in space, as well as in understanding the connection between space materials and life on Earth.

Interested in research related to civil engineering using space materials? Learn more about our space civil engineering research capability.

Planetary Geoscience

Geological characterisation of space materials and extra-terrestrial life environments

Our research capability, led by Associate Professor Tony Kemp, focusses on mineralogical and geochemical studies of geological materials from space that have been ejected from the lunar surface, Mars and the Asteroid Belt. We also work on the characterisation of ancient rock sequences on Earth.

Our research projects span across planetary geology, petrology, microanalysis, geochemistry, geobiology, sedimentology and stratigraphy:

  • Characterisation of chondritic meteorites
  • Martian meteorites
  • Terrestrial hot springs and the origin of life (e.g. characterisation of the geochemical and metallogenic composition of the 3.5 billion-year-old Dresser Formation from Western Australia; experiments on prebiotic organic chemistry)
  • Paleoecology of modern and deep time microbial depositional systems

Planetary mapping  – understanding the tectonics of terrestrial planets

Led by Professor Myra Keep, this team uses Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data to map planetary surfaces, and understand surface and tectonic processes on Venus and other terrestrial planets.

Earth is the only planet in our solar system that has plate tectonics as a driving process. Plate tectonics, driven by heat escaping from the core of our planet, drives everything else, and forms continents, mountains, oceans, volcanoes and affects climate.

Surface mapping of Venus indicates that plate tectonics does not operate at all, and that other processes drive the formation of mountains and volcanoes. Mars appears to have had early attempts at plate tectonics that did not evolve, yet Mars hosts the largest volcano yet known in the solar system. Mars also has a number of water- and wind-driven surface processes in operation.

ISC Planetary Mapping Team


  • Associate Professor Tony Kemp
  • Professor Myra Keep
  • Professor Marco Fiorentini
  • Professor Annette George

Partners and Collaborators


  • Academia (University of New South Wales; James Cook University; Queensland Institute of Technology; University of Cergy Pontoise, France; Gustave Eiffel University, France; Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, France; University of Utah, USA)
  • Bathurst Observatory
  • Geological Society of Western Australia
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists
  • Rio Tinto
  • BHP
  • Metso Outotec
  • Covalent Lithium
  • Mining and Processing Solutions
  • Tianqi Lithium Australia
  • PowerMation

Mining and minerals in space

Our research team, led by Associate Professor Ali Karrech, is interested in developing new technologies that apply to off-Earth mining and mineral processing. Like on-Earth, a successful mine cycle requires proper exploration and prospecting, mine design and planning, mine construction, and production methods.

Our focus for space is on:

  • Water mining in space
  • Space mine optimisation, planning and scheduling
  • In-situ processing of precious metals
  • Off-Earth construction and building materials

ISC Mining and Minerals in Space Team


  • Associate Professor Ali Karrech

Partners and Collaborators


  • Academia (University of New South Wales; James Cook University; Queensland Institute of Technology; University of Cergy Pontoise, France; Gustave Eiffel University, France; Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, France; University of Utah, USA)
  • Bathurst Observatory
  • Geological Society of Western Australia
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists
  • Rio Tinto
  • BHP
  • Metso Outotec
  • Covalent Lithium
  • Mining and Processing Solutions
  • Tianqi Lithium Australia
  • PowerMation