PhD Projects

Opportunities in Planetary Science
at Curtin University

Planetary science involves the study of solar system formation and evolution, the geology of planets and their atmospheres, asteroid impacts and dynamics.
Fundamentally, it is the study of how a nebula of dust and gas can evolve to a planetary system, and generate planets capable of supporting life. It pulls together multiple fields, pure and applied, including engineering.

Curtin University has the largest planetary science research program in Australia, inclusive of the Desert Fireball Network, and is looking to extend this vibrant and diverse team of over 20 staff, postdocs and students with new PhD opportunities.

For more information email


Study Mars with the Observing Mars Geology and Geophysics group.

The growing Planetary Sciences Group at Curtin University in Perth, Australia invites applications for further study.

Projects include an active involvement with the InSight mission, the forthcoming mission to land on Mars in 2018, as well as current remote sensing missions operating at Mars.


Projects are best-suited for students with a science degree (planetary sciences, physics, geology, geophysics, chemistry, or astronomy background) with some computational experience.

1. Imaging the surface geology of Mars using meteorite derived spectra

(Main Supervisor: Gretchen Benedix)

2. Modelling fireballs on Mars and studying seismic effects

(Main Supervisor: Katarina Miljkovic)

3. Understanding structure of Martian crust via numerical modelling of meteoroid strikes on the ground

(Main Supervisor: Katarina Miljkovic)

Research Themes

Curtin Planetary Group has world class strengths in a number of areas: the impact history of the solar system, impact modelling, and impact geology; analysis of meteorites to constrain solar system origins; the geological history of Mars and the Moon; and the Desert Fireball Network, which is the worlds largest planetary observational facility. Our engineers find applied solutions in support of pure research across all of these areas.

Desert Fireball Network

A network of cameras across Australia built to track meteorites coming through the atmosphere and determine their place of origin in the solar system.

Projects for students with backgrounds in physics, astronomy, geophysics, geology, and engineering.

Geology of Mars

The exploration of Mars is the worlds biggest single research project, with >$20 billion worth of missions either currently at the planet or scheduled to fly in the near future. Curtin planetary scientists are working to understand the geology of Mars through its impact history, analysis of orbiter data, and Martian meteorites.

Projects for students with background in geology, geophysics, computer science.

Impact modelling

Studying the physics of the impact process, and impacts as a tool to probe solar system history, using advanced computer modelling.

Projects for students with background in computer science, physics, and geophysics.

Impact geology

The geological record of impacts on the early Earth, the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.

Projects for students with background in geology.

Geology of the Moon

Formation and evolution of the Moon via analysis of Apollo samples and lunar meteorites; the geological and impact history of the Moon, using advanced analytical techniques.

Projects for students with background in geology.

Mission science

Curtin scientists are formally represented on science teams for four planetary missions, and associated with several others, across NASA, ESA, and JAXA missions.

Multiple projects in this area for students across a range of backgrounds.

Solar system formation and evolution

Analysis of rare meteorites to probe the first few million years of solar system history.

Projects for students with backgrounds in geology.

Applied planetary research and innovation

Engineering and machine learning solutions to pure research problems in planetary science. Projects across all research areas for students with backgrounds in engineering, mathematics, and computer science.