WA radio astronomy research receives $26m funding boost

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research begins preparing for Square Kilometre Array project

The Western Australian government has announced $26 million in funding over the next five years for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth.

ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Launched in 2009, it is one of Australia’s largest training centres for graduate students in astronomical science and technology.

ICRAR director Professor Peter Quinn said the extending funding will allow it to take advantage of preparations for the $2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope which is due to begin operations in 2020.

In May 2013, the centre was awarded almost $5 million in grants as part of a $19 million federal government funding package for SKA preparatory work. ICRAR received $3.98 million for the design of a low frequency aperture array and $988,000 for designing a central signal processor.

“We will be building on the skill and knowledge we gained from the Murchison Widefield Array [MWA] radio telescope project,” he said in a statement.

The $51 million MWA radio telescope began observations of the sun in July this year. It acts as an early warning system for solar storms, identifies space junk by using bouncing FM radio waves and studies radio waves that are more than 13 billion years old.

Quinn added that the WA government funding will allow ICRAR to continue its leadership in astronomy, new-generation radio telescope engineering and advanced supercomputing systems.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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Tags radio telescopeSquare Kilometre Array (SKA)radio astronomy technologyInternational Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)Murchison Widefield Array

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