Origins: Planets, Stars and Life

Planets, including Earth, are the natural products of star formation.  Our research investigates the origin and chemical evolution of the Earth and other planets and planetary systems, their early environments, and the evolution of life. Our goal is to understand the formation of the Solar System and our place in it.

We do field work in ancient rock terranes to learn when and how Earth became habitable and teeming with life.  We bring pieces of other planets and extinct stars into our laboratories and look back in time to the dust and gas of the solar nebula. We look deep inside the Earth to see the remnants of processes that occurred billions of years ago, and how they affect us today. We visit other planets remotely to determine why those places are so different from Earth.

The science that we do is interdisciplinary and international in scope, linking RSES with astronomers, biologists, chemists, and physicists around the world. By developing and applying advanced new technologies for laboratory, computational and field-based analysis, we strive to find innovative answers to difficult and exciting questions.

The overarching question for this research theme is: how did the Earth and other planets in our Solar System form and evolve?

  • What processes create planets from a solar nebula?
  • Why are the surface environments of planets in our Solar System so different?
  • What are the relationships between surface geology, geochemistry and the dynamics of the deep interior of the Earth, Moon, and Mars?
  • What made the early Earth habitable and how did life get to where it is today?

 

Theme Facilitators

Highlights

ANU-led study solves mystery of how first animals appeared on Earth

Research led by ANU has solved the mystery of how the first animals appeared on Earth, a pivotal moment for the planet without which humans...

News

19
Sep
2017
Scientists at ANU have produced the best estimate of Earth's elemental composition which will help them understand how the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago. The Solar System...
09
May
2017
Scientists from the Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) say the early Earth was likely to be barren, mountainless and almost entirely under water with a few small islands,...
19
Sep
2016
RSES post-doctoral researcher Aditya Chopra recently undertook field-trips to the world heritage listed Shark Bay Nature Reserve and the Pilbara in Western Australia with...
01
Sep
2016
Australian researchers have found the world's oldest fossils, revealing that diverse life forms thrived on Earth 3.7 billion years ago. Co-lead investigator Associate Professor...
09
Jun
2016
By Aditya Chopra, Australian National University and Charley Lineweaver, Australian National University   Astronomers have found a plethora of planets around nearby stars. And it...
29
Jan
2016
The battered and scarred face of the Moon tells a story of the rough-and-tumble early days of our Solar System when planets were frequently blasted by mountain-size chunks of...
24
Jan
2016
Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from the Research School of Earth Sciences. In research aiming to understand how...
19
Nov
2015
When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, EMERITUS PROFESSOR ROSS TAYLOR AC was surprised to find his ANU experience led him to the opportunity of a lifetime. As the world...
30
Sep
2015
About 50 planetary scientists from across Australia met at the ANU on September 28 to discuss the state-of-the-art advances in planetary science.   A highlight of the meeting was...
21
May
2015
Friday 15 May was a very special day in the life of our School – we marked the 90th year milestones for two of our most distinguished Emeritus Professors, Mervyn Paterson and Ross...

Updated:  25 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  RSES Webmaster/Page Contact:  RSES Webmaster