The Federal Government has launched construction of the second phase of the Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre (AITC) at Mount Stromlo. The Technology Centre will support Australia’s contribution to the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) which will be built in Chile.
Pictured alongside: Giant Magellan Telescope (Artwork by Todd Mason, Image courtesy GMTO Corporation, Pasadena, California.)
This facility will also provide a national hub for Australia’s space industry, connecting firms to the Giant Magellan project and other research collaborations. The Las Campanas Observatory in Chile was selected for its high altitude, dry climate, dark skies, and unsurpassed seeing quality, as well as its access to the southern sky.
"We will put more than $88 million into the project and this Centre, complementing the $160 million we have already committed to space research through the Super Science scheme," said Senator Kim Carr at the launch on 18 April 2011. Carr is Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
The 24.4 meter next-generation telescope will be built two and half kilometres up a mountain in Chile. The technology to construct and operate this telescope has yet to be developed.
"In order to build it, we will marshal the skills of researchers in some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. Harvard, The Smithsonian, The Carnegie Institute and The Australian National University," added Carr. "In partnership with industry, they will develop tools and skills which lie today in the realm of science fiction."
The tools being develop at Stromlo will provide images of space ten times sharper than the Hubble Telescope. The AITC will also centralise all the necessary facilities to develop and test small satellites for remote sensing and telecommunications.
The Federal Government will also create a new national hub for teh country’s space community, connecting firms to researchers and aerospace projects across the globe.Some of those firms will work directly on the Giant Magellan project, such as Aerospace Concepts. It will design the systems engineering management framework.
In total, this project will directly create up to two hundred and forty Australian jobs – and will continue to open new opportunities for Australian firms for another forty years.
Other Australian firms will be connected to projects made possible through our $40 million Space Research Program. Projects range from range from monitoring greenhouse gas, to protecting vital satellites, to supporting our research team in Antarctica.