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Find out what chemicals are found in outer space.

What does an Astrochemist do?

An Astrochemists is a Scientist who’s literally “starstruck.” Part Astronomer and part Chemist, you’re obsessed with the periodic table — but would rather study it in space than on Earth. You’re never content with mere stargazing. As an Astrochemist, you not only look at stars, but also examine, analyze, and dissect them. In other words, while other people watch stars, count them, or wish on them, you do a whole lot more.

Employed by universities, planetariums, museums, research institutes, and government agencies, you’re paid to study the chemicals and molecules that exist in outer space, including those that make up the gaseous matter of stars, suns, and solar systems. Some of those chemicals, like hydrogen, also exist on earth. Others exist only in space. All, however, have a role to play in the composition of the universe, and it’s your mission as an Astrochemist to figure out what that role is.

Of course, studying stars isn’t easy when your feet are stuck on the ground. Still, you’ve found a way: You use radio telescopes to detect the electromagnetic radiation that’s given off by objects in space. By detecting infrared, ultraviolet, gamma, and radio waves, you can establish what substances are in space and in what quantities, which—combined with information from Astronauts, Astrophysicists, and even Meteorologists begin to tell the story of how the universe was made.

In a way, then, you’re the astronomical equivalent of a Seamstress: You’re combing the galaxy for a loose thread that you can unravel in order to figure out how the fabric of life on Earth was sewn!