Prepare to be dazzled, space watchers say

Marion RaeAAP
Dr Ceri Brenner says the space station travels at eight km a second, orbiting earth in 90 minutes.
Camera IconDr Ceri Brenner says the space station travels at eight km a second, orbiting earth in 90 minutes. Credit: AAP

Scientists say it's time to look up and be dazzled.

For one week, the clouds will part and the International Space Station (ISS) will be clearly visible above Australia as it moves across the night sky.

The sight will rival the planet Venus in brightness and its commanding position, scientist Ceri Brenner said on Friday.

Don't be fooled into thinking the space station is slow moving.

"The ISS does eight kilometres per second, meaning it races around the Earth in about 90 minutes. That's 16 orbits per day," she said.

Dr Brenner, who heads up the Centre for Accelerator Science, said ANSTO scientists have an important role studying the effects of galactic cosmic rays on astronauts aboard the ISS.

As Australia looks to enter the group of nations who explore the stars, researchers have been testing the response of human cells and living matter to radiation.

"It was less than 95 years ago that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his four man crew made history becoming the first people to fly across the Pacific," she said.

"Today, we have a permanent base in space the size of a soccer field weighing 450 tonnes."

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