UNSW space scientists have outshone NASA by scoring a higher academic paper citation rate, according to the latest international ranking of universities and space science institutions.

The Thomson group recently reported on the output of refereed journal articles and citations in Space Sciences from 2001 to 2005.

UNSW did extremely well with a very high citation rate (15.69) that was better than NASA (15.42) and within 20 percent of Caltech and Harvard - the world's three top-ranked space science institutions.

UNSW's citation rate was the second highest amongst Australian universities, just behind ANU's (16.09). This result is all the more impressive because UNSW space scientists, unlike those from some institutions, have both teaching and research duties.

Two examples of UNSW space research that have attracted international headlines include:

UNSW's Department of Astrophysics attracts more than $1m of external funding each year through Australian Research Council (ARC) grants.

In the latest round of funding, the top two largest ARC Discovery Grants awarded to UNSW were in the School of Physics. A team led by Dr Adam Micolich won the University's largest Discovery Project Grant ($1.3 million) for research that could lead to a new world of super-fast, low-powered transistors and powerful quantum computers.

UNSW's second largest Discovery Grant of $1.2m was awarded to Dr Chris Tinney who is searching for planets orbiting other stars, including potentially habitable Earth-like planets orbiting nearby cool stars.

Click here for more information about the Thomson university science indicators.