Rocks in Space

From delivering water and other chemicals necessary for the spread of life, to causing catastrophic, world-shattering mass extinction events, meteorites and comets have shaped both our planet and our entire solar system.  

Join Professor Sara Russell as she explores how these relics from the origin of our solar system can help reveal the 4.5 billion year history of our world, provide clues to the nature of the wider universe, and how they may even help humans protect our planet as we transition to a zero carbon future.
  • Instructor:
    Professor Sara Russell
  • Level: Beginner
  • Number of chapters: 15 
  • Study time: 1.5 hours
  • Course handbook included


In this course, explore:
  • how our solar system was born, and how it will die

  • the history of humans studying meteorites and comets, and how Museum scientists use them to look billions of years back in time
  • how new technology has enabled meteorites to reveal the history of the moon and Mars 
  • what we know about exoplanets and other planetary systems in our galaxy
  • what scientists hope to discover from the OSIRIS-REx and MMX missions and what the future of space missions to rocky bodies in our solar system looks like

Course plan

Meet your scientist

Professor Sara Russell

Sara is a Merit Researcher in Cosmic Mineralogy and Planetary Sciences at the Natural History Museum in London. Her team are studying the formation of the solar system as well as the formation and evolution of the moons of the terrestrial planets. They’re currently using the meteorite collection the Museum cares for to investigate the origin of water in the solar system, transport within the early protoplanetary disk and geological processes in asteroids.   

Sara is a Science Team Member of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, a member of the JAXA’s Hayabusa2 Analysis Team and European Space Agency Representative on the International Science Board of JAXA’s MMX mission. She edited the book Chondrules and the Protoplanetary Disk published by Cambridge University Press and is the proud namesake of Asteroid 5497 Sararussell.  
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