Curtin, NASA partnership reaches for the stars

Curtin, NASA partnership reaches for the stars


Curtin university has struck a relationship with NASA to better understand the solar system.

Curtin has become an affiliate member of NASA’s solar system exploration research virtual institute (SSERVI) and would now collaborate in lunar and planetary research with WA scientists granted access to NASA development programs.

The partnership also meant Curtin would help NASA develop planetary missions including the OSIRIS Rex mission which would fly next year and return a sample of an asteroid in 2023.

Curtin professor Phil Bland submitted the proposal to NASA and said it was an exciting time for WA science.

“The partnership means that there’s a formal agreement between NASA and Australia’s planetary science community covering research collaboration, mission development, mentoring of our young scientists, and outreach,” he said.

“It means that Australian planetary scientists will be involved in much more collaborative research with our NASA colleagues and that we’ll be working with them from the start on developing mission concepts for NASA planetary missions that we’ll be involved in. Our research successes will appear on NASA websites and will get a much higher profile that way.”

Prof Bland said the most important aspect was the career development of WA scientists including summer schools and internships.

Prof Bland applied for the partnership because he felt although Australia had many great researchers they were missing out.

“We didn’t have the profile in the US that we should have given the quality of research that we do,” he said.

NASA SSERVI deputy director Greg Schmidt said Curtin had put forward a compelling proposal.

“This partnership will be important to NASA and its international partners successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans and we look forward to a long and close partnership between our respective countries,” he said.

NASA will also collaborate with Curtin in their fields of microanalysis, geochronology and tracking fireballs.