Aussie space research facility launched

AITC exterior shot

Construction has begun on the second stage of the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at Mount Stromlo near Canberra.

CONSTRUCTION OF A STATE-OF-THE-ART facility to develop and test advanced space science technologies has been officially launched at Mt Stromlo Observatory.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr launched the building of phase two of the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC-2).

The new one-of-a-kind facility, funded under the Education Investment Fund program, will initially support development of the international, billion-dollar Giant Magellan Telescope and a number of Australian Space Research Program projects.

The Australian projects include supplying broadband Internet access to research teams in Antarctica; taking gravity field measurements for water management across Australia and monitoring the movement of dangerous space debris.

Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mt Stromlo, Professor Harvey Butcher, said that the goal is to make the AITC a national centre for university, government and industry collaboration.

“This new building aims to provide a ‘one stop shop’ to develop and test small satellites for remote sensing and telecommunications, as well as instruments for astronomy and astrophysics,” said Professor Butcher.

“The assembly of such precision equipment requires high-quality clean rooms, vacuum chambers, test benches and a vibration table designed to test the dynamical behaviour of instrumentation, for example such as occurs during launching into orbit.”

“Astronomy is remote sensing at its most remote, and the facility will be available for use by the remote sensing community from universities, government organisations and commercial industry,” he added.

“An important focus will be collaboration with industry, including a partnership with EOS Space Systems to develop Adaptive Optics—a technology capable of de-blurring images made through the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Adapted from information issued by ANU.

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