Is there life beyond Earth? How did the universe begin? These are the kinds of big questions space scientists ask. Space science researches things like distant planets, gravitational waves, or the conditions required for us to live in space.

Person adjusting Telescope against clear view of milky way galaxy

View of Space observatory against rainy sky

The Rundown

What does a space scientist do? 

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.

What you’ll need to know and do

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.

Your 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.

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

Key resources

Our key space career job roles and study pathways information is packaged up into downloadable PDFs that students, teachers or parents can easily browse through and keep as a handy reference.

Careers in space booklet image

Careers in space booklet

Our space career booklet covers all the space careers we talk about online, and can be downloaded by students, teachers or parents to read, share or use in the classroom.


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