[ASC-media] ANU Media Statement: ANU Centre Heralds Giant Future for Mt Stromlo

Jane O'Dwyer jane.odwyer at anu.edu.au
Mon Oct 16 07:05:15 CEST 2006

News from The Australian National University



Mt Stromlo Observatory at The Australian National University today
partly consigns the 2003 Canberra bushfires to the past and looks
forward to a giant future with the opening of a new facility that could
see components and instruments for the world's most powerful telescope,
the Giant Magellan Telescope, built at the iconic observatory.

The ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) Advanced
Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) was officially opened today
by Federal Education Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP. The Federal
Government, through the Department of Education, Science and Training,
contributed $7.3 million towards the building.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb said the AITC opening heralded a
new era for ANU participation in the international development of large
astronomical instrumentation.

"This new facility goes beyond simply replacing lost buildings,
extending the capacity of the University to play a key role in some of
the most exciting and visionary international projects in astronomy,
including the proposed Giant Magellan Telescope," Professor Chubb said. 

"The Centre will help ensure that the national university is able to
continue its leadership in astronomical engineering, astrophysics and
astronomical research."

While the AITC has been designed specifically with the capacity to
assist the GMT project, it will offer immediate benefit to Mt Stromlo
staff by enabling the school to integrate its academic, technical and
education activities. The building contains state-of-the-art
laboratories for research and development of new technologies, a large
Integration Hall for assembling instruments for telescopes and a walkway
that will allow the public to view work in the building without
disrupting staff.

 RSAA Director Professor Penny Sackett said the AITC cemented
Australia's participation in front-line international astronomical

"It's essential that Australian researchers have access to the best
facilities in the world to participate in the global effort to better
understand the Universe around us. This facility keeps Stromlo, which
has always been at the forefront of astronomy and its instrumentation,
on the map, and allows us to play an important role in future

"In addition to being a founding member of the GMT consortium - which
will eventually help detect and study planets around other suns, probe
the dark matter and dark energy that controls the expansion and
development of the cosmos, and unlock the secrets of star and planet
formation - we are also engaged in a number of other collaborative
projects that will benefit from the new centre.

"ANU is also partner in the Mileura Wild-field Array project that will
be built in Western Australia to probe very early times in the Universe
soon after the Big Bang. One of the first projects to be undertaken in
the AITC will be the development by RSAA engineers of fast signal
processing systems for the MWA," Professor Sackett said.

"Every new generation of telescopes demands more complex and efficient
instruments. This centre means that Stromlo will long have the
facilities to play a role in the development of new technology."

For further information or to arrange interview:

ANU Media Office - Jane O'Dwyer 02 6125 5001 or 0416 249 231 or Simon
Couper 02 6125 5575 or 0416 249 241.


Jane O'Dwyer

Media Manager

The Australian National University

T: 02 6125 5001

F: 02 6125 8255

M: 0416 249 231

W: www.anu.edu.au/media

Looking for expert comment? Try www.anu.edu.au/experts 

Marketing and Communications Division

The Australian National University

Canberra ACT 0200


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