Quarterly update: November 2008
GMT HEEF Bid
AAL congratulates ANU in the short-listing of the HEEF bid for a 10% share of the Giant Magellan Telescope. At the invitation of ANU, Prof Jeremy Mould represented AAL alongside a delegation from ANU to present the GMT HEEF bid to the HEEF Advisory Board on 17th November 2008. Consistent with the Astronomy Roadmap, Prof Mould re-affirmed to the HEEF Advisory Board that AAL expected the proposed 10% Australian share of GMT to be operated as a national facility with a single peer review time assignment committee.
The list of HEEF projects to be funded is expected to be announced within weeks.
AAL has now written to the Carnegie Observatories to arrange continued Australian access to the Magellan telescopes. The original intention, approved by the Department of Innovation, had been to commit to Magellan access until 2011B inclusive. Unfortunately, the sudden decline in the Australian dollar relative to the US dollar has impacted on the cost of Magellan access. As a result AAL has only been able to commit to Magellan access until 2011A inclusive at this stage.
The Astronomy Roadmap was submitted to the Department of Innovation on 17th October 2008 as planned. Subsequently, representatives from the Department of Innovation have acknowledged the usefulness of the roadmap in informing the Department with recent developments in astronomy, including the future of the AAO and the GMT HEEF bid.
The final Astronomy NCRIS project yet to commence is phase 2 of the Murchison Widefield Array. As MWA has evolved since AAL signed the Astronomy NCRIS funding agreement with the Department of Innovation, AAL has instigated a review of MWA. The review team is:
- Lister Staveley-Smith (Chair);
- Tony Beasley;
- Dave De Boer;
- Ron Ekers; and
- Elaine Sadler.
The above team will meet on 5th December 2008 to review the capability statement for a 32 tile system, and will meet again in early 2009 when the full MWA project plan is available.