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




AAL Signs Antarctic Astronomy MoU with Chinese Academy of Sciences

Astronomy Australia Limited is delighted to announce that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding Antarctic Astronomy with the Division for Basic Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The MoU was signed at a ceremony in Beijing on the 25th August 2012, during the International Astronomical Union's XXVIII General Assembly.

The MoU addresses collaboration between Chinese and Australian astronomers in key areas of mutual scientific interest, using data from the Chinese-led Antarctic Schmidt Telescopes (AST3) project and support observations from Australian facilities. The key science areas are:

  • Supernova physics;
  • The discover and characterisation of solar system objects and exo-planets and their parent stars;
  • Stellar structure and evolution;
  • The physics of the dynamic extragalactic Universe.

Astronomers from both countries will work together over the next few months to produce a science plan covering each of these areas, as well as exploring future possibilities using Antarctic astronomy infrastructure such as the planned Chinese KDUST and DATE5 Terahertz telescopes.

The MoU is an acknowledgement of the complementary world-leading expertise and resources in astronomy existing in both countries. The aim of the collaboration is to maximise the scientific output from Antarctic astronomy infrastructure investments made by both parties.

AST3 is situated at the Kunlun Station, Dome A, at the highest point of the Antarctic Plateau. Conditions on the Antarctic Plateau are ideal for astronomical observation, with extremely cold, dry and stable atmospheric conditions as well as having very dark skies for long, continuous periods through the year.

Australian astronomers have been involved in activities at Dome A through the University of New South Wales' PLATeau Observatory (PLATO-A), which will be the primary support platform for AST3, and through equipment to characterise the infrared background and cloud cover at Dome A. AAL has funded these activities through the Australian Government NCRIS and EIF grants.

To see a copy of the MoU: AAL-DBRCAS Antarctic Astronomy MoU (PDF)

Brian Schmidt (Director, AAL) and Minghua Liu (Director for Basic Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences) sign the MoU, Beijing, 25 August 2012. (Photo Credit: Michael Burton)