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.
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:
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.
Using remotely sensed data to map planets allows us to understand planetary evolution mechanisms.
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:
Mining and Minerals in Space
Left: SAR data from Meshkent tessera quadrangle, which is in the northern regions of Venus. Credit: image created by Craig Thompson from NASA Magellan data.
Right: Photomicrograph of a chondritic meteorite, believed to originate from the Asteroid Belt. These meteorites are amongst the oldest know objects in the Solar System, dating back 4.56 billion years, and are the building blocks for the terrestrial planets. Credit: Anthony Kemp, UWA.