Ennis - Spectroscopy of planetary and interstellar environments
Dr Courtney Ennis
Research Fellow, College of Science, Health and Engineering
Astrochemistry is the study of molecules and chemical reactions observed throughout our Solar System and beyond into interstellar space. Over 200 molecular species, many essential to living systems on Earth, have been seen to inhabit exotic space locations by powerful new telescopes and recent spacecraft exploration.
Motivated by their discoveries, we recreate the unfamiliar atmospheres and ice-capped surfaces probed by these missions with specialised equipment at the Australian Synchrotron facility. Here we apply advanced infrared techniques to trace chemical reactions unfolding at the very cold temperatures associated with these distant worlds. By compiling this data, we develop our understanding of the Earth's chemical origins as well as improve our sensing methods for biological significant molecules that may remain undetected in space.