Australian astronomy is acknowledged internationally as world-class with strengths in ground-based optical and radio observational work, backed by complementary abilities in theory and computation. Indeed in the past decade Australian researchers have played leading roles in major discoveries such as the existence of dark energy, the acceleration of the universe, a new type of galaxy, a unique double pulsar and planets orbiting other stars.
The $45 million the Australian Government is committing to astronomy through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) is supporting a range of projects to help ensure that Australian astronomers stay internationally competitive and have access to the facilities they require.
The NCRIS investments are managed by Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL).
NCRIS funding for radio astronomy will be directed to the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), a technology demonstrator for the proposed Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, and a next-generation, world-leading telescope in its own right. Funding will also be provided for the Murchison Wide-Field Array (MWA) radio telescope, a large-scale, low-frequency interferometer being constructed by a consortium of institutions from the United States, Australia and India.
In optical astronomy, NCRIS-funded projects include the further development of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, including upgrading and providing new instrumentation for the Anglo-Australian Telescope, continued access for Australian astronomers to the world-leading 8-metre class telescopes of the international Gemini and Magellan Observatories, and a contribution to the design and development phase of the proposed next-generation 25-metre Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) in Chile.
This project provides investment for the future of all Australia. Science will benefit, but there will also be opportunities for Australian industry in the development of the engineering to support these exciting projects, such as the Square Kilometre Array.
This NCRIS funding will enable the building of the infrastructure, which will allow Australian astronomy to maintain its world-leading role in research.
Dr Martin Cole, Chair, Astronomy Australia Ltd
“New Horizons - A Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy 2006-2015”, produced by the National Committee for Astronomy, recommended the creation of a new body to coordinate Australia’s astronomical activities and to represent Australia in international partnerships, in order to streamline decision making, to allow Australia to be more responsive to opportunities as they arise and to maximise benefits achieved through partnership agreements.
The NCRIS Investment Plan for Optical and Radio Astronomy catalysed the creation of such a new body, incorporated as Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL).
AAL is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee whose members are a range of Australian universities and research organisations. Its core business is to manage programmes that provide astronomers with access to national optical/infrared and radio astronomy infrastructure.
AAL also consults with its members, with the Australian astronomy community, and with international experts, to coordinate and provide policy advice to the Government on matters relating to future strategic investments in research infrastructure for astronomy.
For enquiries about Astronomy Australia Limited, please contact:
Mr Mark McAuley
Chief Operating Officer
Astronomy Australia Ltd
PO Box 2100
HAWTHORN VIC 3122
Tel: +61 3 9214 8036
For matters related to management of the NCRIS program, please contact the NCRIS Team by email or by telephone on 02 6276 1120.
For further information on NCRIS investments in Optical and Radio Astronomy, please see the Astronomy Australia Ltd website at http://www.astronomyaustralia.org.au