Research Field: Space
The Earth gets hit by over 15,000,000 kg of extraterrestrial material every year. Most of this is dust-sized, but bright shooting stars (fireballs) can sometimes result in a meteorite falling to Earth. Meteorites can help us piece together early solar system history, but where they come from is usually unknown.
Dr Ellie Sansom leads the Global Fireball Observatory project to figure out where these objects are coming from to give both the spatial context to pristine meteorite samples as well as help understand potential future asteroid impacts with the Earth.
Dr Sansom has led field trips to recover meteorite samples across Australia and recently led the scientific observation campaign in South Australia for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Hayabusa-2 sample capsule.
Dr Sansom is also on the mission science team for NASA’s Insight lander on Mars, listening for impact generated marsquakes.
Dr Sansom is passionate about sharing her research with the public, finding the wonder and interest in space generates enthusiasm for STEM fields. She presents across age groups, from hands on demonstrations in primary schools to career advice in high schools, to public lectures across the country. Dr Sansom has featured on ABC Catalyst, ABC’s Science show, as well as live radio/TV interviews and online articles. Through mainstream media and public engagement, she has reached over 2.3 million individuals since 2019.
Dr Sansom completed her PhD in 2017 at Curtin University.