Australian citizen scientists are helping to catch shooting stars in the vast skies of outback Australia and to track the impact of climate change on species in our warming oceans.
Curtin University’s Fireballs in the Sky project invites people to use a smartphone app to record and submit the time, location, trajectory and appearance of meteors they spot.
By triangulating these reports with observations from an array of cameras in remote Western and South Australia, scientists can try to determine where the meteorite may have come from and where it landed.
Technology that ‘de-twinkles’ stars is being used to pinpoint manmade space junk and avoid devastating collisions like those dramatised in the movie Gravity.
Australian company Electro Optic Systems, based on Mount Stromlo in Canberra, is using adaptive optics and pulsing lasers to locate detritus too small for conventional radar. Ultimately, the company hopes to use similar lasers to remove the debris from orbit.
Adaptive optics helps the pulsing lasers to cut through the Earth’s atmospheric turbulence, which distorts and scatters light, by using a second orange-coloured laser to illuminate sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere.
A new breed of spacecraft engine is undergoing its first indoor test flights, thanks to a giant ‘wombat’ on the outskirts of Australia’s capital.
The Australian National University has developed a plasma thruster that uses electricity to ionise gas and produce thrust, allowing the engine to run for longer and with much less fuel than a chemical rocket.
This makes it ideal for manoeuvring satellites in orbit, or for extended voyages to places like Mars. However, rocket manufacturers need to be sure it works before trusting it on multimillion-dollar satellites.
Fundamental questions about the Universe are set to be answered as a new radio telescope in outback Western Australia comes online, using multiple beam radio receiver technology to view the sky with unprecedented speed and sensitivity.
The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), CSIRO’s newest telescope, uses innovative phased array feed receivers, also known as ‘radio cameras’, to capture images of radio-emitting galaxies in an area about the size of the Southern Cross—far more than can be seen with a traditional radio telescope.
Monster black holes lurking in the centres of galaxies are hungrier than previously thought, Melbourne scientists have discovered.
Astrophysicist Alister Graham and his team at Swinburne University have revealed that these so-called supermassive black holes consume a greater portion of their galaxy’s mass the bigger the galaxy gets. The discovery overturns the longstanding belief that these supermassive black holes are always a constant 0.2 per cent of the mass of all the other stars in their galaxy.
A typhoid outbreak in Kathmandu has provided new insights into bacterial epidemics and antibiotic resistance, thanks to a Melbourne scientist’s genomic research.
Kathryn Holt, of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, used genome sequencing to discover that an epidemic of deadly typhoid bacteria in Nepal’s capital city was driven by climate, and not by the outbreak of novel genetic strains.
Her research, published in the Royal Society journal Open Biology, changes our understanding of how typhoid spreads and how we can better respond to other bacterial epidemics.
Research on the effects of the popular joint supplement glucosamine has raised fears for women’s fertility, and a knee-jerk reaction from the vitamin industry, as Adelaide scientists reveal its threat to conception.