Quarterly update: June 2011
Australian funding for Gemini
At the Gemini Finance Committee meeting on 9th May 2011, AAL committed USD5,000,000 towards Australia's share of Gemini Observatory operations from 2013 until 2015 inclusive. This will maintain Australia as a 6.2% partner in Gemini when the International Gemini Partnership Agreement is extended until 31st December 2015. AAL has recevied the funds required to make this commitment from the ARC (AUD3,000,000 of new funding), the AAO (AUD960,000 of new funding), and DIISR (AUD921,184 from the existing NCRIS grant).
Research infrastructure roadmap
DIISR intends to present the 2011 edition of their Australian research infrastructure roadmap to Minister Carr in August 2011. Astronomy will be one of the many capabilities discussed in that roadmap, and is considered under DIISR's Frontier Technologies Expert Working Group. AAL presented a summary of the current status of astronomical research infrastructure to the working group on 24th February 2011, and in consultation with the NCA made a written submission to DIISR on 4th May 2011. AAL's primary recommendation to DIISR was that they should investigate Australian membership of ESO to maximise the scientific return-on-investment when Australia is a minor partner in overseas facilities.
DIISR have released a draft of their research infrastructure roadmap. AAL will meet with DIISR on 14th July 2011 to discuss this draft roadmap, and we welcome feedback from the Australian astronomical community before that date.
Astronomy EIF programme
The $10,000,000 astronomy EIF programme will commence on 1st July 2011 and will involve nine discrete projects. On 31st May 2011 AAL submitted the 2011/12 astronomy EIF business plan to DIISR.
So far AAL has executed subcontracts covering four of the EIF projects:
- CSIRO, for the upgrade of the Australia Telescope Compact Array C/X receivers ($1,471,000);
- The University of New South Wales, for the Antarctic astronomy project to create PLATO-R and contribute to the AST3 project at Dome A ($1,000,000);
- Adelaide Research and Innovation (representing University of Adelaide), for the Pierre Auger Observatory cloud cameras ($50,840);
- Swinburne University of Technology, for the gSTAR supercomputer ($1,040,000).
A fifth project, contributions toward 2011 and 2012 Gemini instrumentation, is covered as part of Australia's participation in the International Gemini Partnership Agreement.
Astronomy NCRIS programme
The astronomy NCRIS programme will formally cease on 30th June 2011. The vast majority of the $45,531,000 NCRIS grant and related interest earnings of approximately $2,640,000 will have been spent by that date. The remaining funds have also been fully allocated by AAL. AAL's 2010/11 annual report will include a summary of the projects funded by the astronomy NCRIS programme.