Oct 13, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Australia’s federal government recently announced plans to grow a domestic space industry, and the country’s students are exploring new opportunities as a result. Here’s a closer look at how Australian kids are dreaming bigger -- and yet closer to home -- since the news broke, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

“At the Table”

NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot recently declared that it was time for Australia to “be at the table” when it comes to the space industry. And plenty of young people are planning to claim their seats.

At a recent meeting between Mr. Lightfoot, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) chief executive Larry Marshall, and a dozen Sydney students, one teenager asserted, “I'm doing a lot of research in my free time on CSIRO and NASA and how they work together and learning about their goals as well, I'm especially interested in Mars, Pluto and Alpha Centauri."

Another student expressed her hope that more opportunities would open up moving forward for space studies."I didn't really know these opportunities and pathways were there until these talks with NASA and CSIRO,” she said.

Enthusiasm Abounds

Mr. Lightfoot expressed similar hopes for greater engagement with the establishment of an Australian space agency. He told Fairfax Media, “From what I've seen in the US with NASA and with the space agencies I work with around the world is that having a space agency, having that vision, is something that attracts children and students to come and be in this industry.”

Dr. Marshall echoed Mr. Lightfoot’s enthusiasm, “When I was a child, about five years old, I had the privilege of seeing man land on the moon. Imagine my excitement more than 50 years later when I got woken up in the wee hours of the morning by CSIRO scientists at the ground station [in Canberra] who were receiving the first images of Pluto. So in my lifetime, Australian science in partnership with NASA has gone from the moon to Pluto, the entire solar system. That's amazing for me, but imagine what you're going to see in your lifetimes, imagine just how far science will go, and you'll get to actually be a part of it."

Read more about space studies in Australia.

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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