An ASKAP antenna at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. Image Credit: Ant Schinckel, CSIRO.




Quarterly update: May 2010

Murchison Widefield Array

Following the successful verification of the MWA 32 tile system, AAL has signed a contract with Curtin University of Technology to provide $4.6M in NCRIS funding towards phase 2 of MWA: progressing the array from 32 tiles to 512 tiles. The MWA project plan confirms that the NCRIS funding will need to be augmented by additional grants to allow the project to reach a functioning 512 tile system.

Antarctic astronomy

AAL has signed a contract with the University of New South Wales to provide $330,000 in NCRIS funding, to supplement ARC LIEF funding, towards two new robotic observatories (PLATOs) for the Antarctic Plateau. These PLATOs will support site-testing and astronomical instruments for observations at Dome A and Dome F. These PLATOs will be deployed to Antarctica by Chinese and Japanese collaborators.

Optical Telescopes Advisory Committee

The Optical Telescopes Advisory Committee (OTAC) has been appointed by the AAL Board. The first meeting of the committee took place via teleconference on 30th April 2010, chaired by Joss Bland-Hawthorn. Information about the committee, including terms of reference and membership, can be found on the OTAC webpage.

Supercomputer access

AAL is delighted to have assisted in securing $600,000 in NCI funding to fund two support staff, one at the NCI National Facility at ANU, the other at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology. The new appointments will assist Australian astronomers to access both supercomputers. Please contact Ben Evans, ANU, and Darren Croton, Swinburne, for more details.

AAL awarded supplementary NCRIS grant

AAL has signed a contract with DIISR to receive $531,000 of additional NCRIS funding. This supplementary NCRIS grant will be used to fund AAL to oversee the $10M astronomy EIF grant which AAL will manage from July 2011.

GMT workshop

AAL is organising the "Challenges for the GMT" meeting to be held at Swinburne University of Technology on 15th and 16th June 2010. This workshop will explore some of the key technical challenges for the Giant Magellan Telescope and related science. Of particular focus will be active and adaptive optics, high contrast imaging, and exploiting the full field of view. All astronomers in Australia as well as at other GMT partner institutions are warmly invited to attend.

New member of staff

AAL has appointed Catherine Andrews to the position of AAL Office Manager for 12 months while Libby Armstrong is on maternity leave.