The Australian National University (ANU) has secured a $5 million contract to design the Giant Magellan Telescope Integral Field Spectrometer (GMTIFS) and $6.4 million to help develop a space debris tracking system for the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute.
The contracts come amid the completion of the university’s Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre, which officially launched this week.
Researchers at the facility will have access to the giant mirror that will help produce images “10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope”, according to professor Matthew Colless, ANU’s director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
“We have new capabilities that others didn’t have. Australia has many small to medium enterprises in the space industry. We want to enable them to get together to take on larger projects,” he said in a statement.
Up to $1.6 billion in revenue every year comes from Australia’s space sector, which employs more than 4000 scientists, engineers, policy makers and support staff.
The GMTIFS will be an adaptive optics instrument installed into the Giant Magellan Telescope. It will combine an adaptive-optics near-infrared integral-field spectrograph (IFS) with an adaptive-optics near-infrared imager. It will also have high angular and spectral resolution.
The GMTIFS will be used to study formation of galaxies, dark matter and dark energy to further our understanding of outer space.
ANU will help develop the space debris tracking system by providing technological support to Electro Optic Systems (EOS) for the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute. The system will track much smaller pieces of debris, which is a growing concern to safety in space flight operations.
An ultra-fast adaptive optics system and a laser guide star will be used to measure the distance of space debris from a ground-based station.
“This cutting-edge adaptive optics system will counteract the unintended effects of atmosphere turbulence in the fast-moving line of sight of a space object orbiting at 28 000 km/h over our heads,” according to an ANU blog post.