A new $100 million International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) was launched last month to spearhead national efforts to attract the world’s largest science project to Western Australia.
ICRAR will coordinate WA's radio astronomy research efforts, and will play a pivotal role in Australia's bid to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.
At its official opening in early September, WA Premier Colin Barnett emphasised the significance of the centre in attracting the SKA project. He said it “… is absolutely critical for our bid to be the site for the SKA, one of the world’s greatest scientific endeavours, ranking up there with putting a man on the moon and the cyclotron project”.
The centre is a joint venture between The University of Western Australia and Curtin University of Technology and is sponsored by the WA Government. The CSIRO and iVEC, the advanced computing hub for WA's research community, are both collaborating partners.
The new facility means some of Australia's most eminent astronomers will be based at the two universities. They include ICRAR’s Director, Professor Peter Quinn; and Deputy Directors, Professors Steven Tingay, Lister Staveley-Smith and Peter Hall.
Professors Quinn, Tingay and Staveley-Smith are Premier's Fellows and Prof. Hall is Australia's only Professor of Radio Astronomy Engineering.
UWA’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the centre was yet another indication of WA's continuing commitment to outstanding research to support the national bid for the SKA project.
"The establishment of this centre will allow WA to attract more of the world's leading radio astronomers," Professor Robson said.
"It will create a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the success of these radio astronomy projects."
The SKA will involve 19 countries and will be the most powerful radio telescope in the world, with the ability to examine the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.
The SKA will be located in one of two possible locations, Australia and New Zealand or Southern Africa, with the final decision to be made in 2012. If the Australian bid is successful it will see the core site of the SKA and the largest concentration of radio antenna based in the “radio quiet” Murchison region of the state, north-east of Geraldton with antenna sites emanating out across the country and over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.
The State Government provided $20 million towards funding and UWA and Curtin have contributed the remainder as funding and in-kind support, making ICRAR one of the largest hubs for research in radio astronomy in the world.
For more information, visit www.icrar.org
CRICOS Code: 00126G