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Space scientists apply the laws of physics, chemistry and geology to understand the universe and its contents.

Space science is all about looking outwards from Earth to the stars and beyond. Space scientists try to find answers to big questions, such as: Is there life beyond Earth? What are other planets made of and how are they formed? How did the universe begin?

It is an incredibly broad field and involves many other scientific specialities such as physics, chemistry, geology and mathematics. Space scientists can be:

  • Astrophysicists
  • Meteorologists
  • Astronomers
  • Planetary scientists
  • Geologists
  • Chemists
  • Materials scientists
  • Biochemists and biophysicists
  • Mathematicians
  • Computer scientists.

Because space science is generally research-based, many space scientists do postgraduate research and go on to work as researchers in universities and other institutions. They might spend their whole careers researching things like distant planets, gravitational waves, or the conditions required for us to live in space.

Skills required to be a space scientist include formulating research questions, collecting and analysing data, and reporting and presenting the results.

Study pathway

Most space scientists would start by studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in a field such as:

  • Physics
  • Astrophysics
  • Astronomy
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Geology
  • Planetary Science

The following universities offer undergraduate study options specifically related to the space industry which may be relevant to a career in space science:

Almost all universities in Australia offer degrees in relevant areas of science. Visit individual university websites for more information.

Most space scientists would continue their research at postgraduate level by completing honours followed by a masters or PhD in their area of interest.

At the postgraduate level, the following courses may be relevant to becoming a space scientist:

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