[ASA] Project Director's Update [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Luchetti, David David.Luchetti at industry.gov.au
Wed Mar 9 16:59:57 AEDT 2016

Dear SKA stakeholders,

For your information, my latest Project Director’s Update<http://ska.gov.au/updates/Pages/2016-03-Project-Director%27s-Update.aspx> is now available on the Australian SKA Website (www.ska.gov.au<http://www.ska.gov.au>).
The update is also pasted below and summarises recent SKA-related activities and developments in Australia and internationally.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the Australian SKA project.

Kind Regards,

David Luchetti

March 2016
On Monday 7 December the Australian Government announced the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which included funding to the tune of $293.7 million <http://authorska.authprod.ind/Pages/SKA_funding.aspx> over 10 years to meet Australia’s initial commitment to the SKA. Although the funds are contingent on the successful outcome of ongoing international treaty negotiations, this announcement is a clear signal of the Australian Government’s commitment to the project. The funding will cover Australia’s site preparation, construction and initial operations commitments for SKA Phase 1.
In other funding news, in October 2015 the Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded a $1 million grant to upgrade one of the SKA precursor telescopes, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). This funding will be used to expand the MWA tiles<http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-31/arc-grant-for-wa-telescope-looking-for-origins-of-the-universe/6901300> from 128 to 256, quadrupling the telescope's capabilities. More recently, the European Union’s Research and Innovation program - Horizon 2020 - awarded the SKA Organisation €5 million<http://horizon2020projects.com/il-space/ska-receives-boost-from-horizon-2020/>. The funding is for the development of infrastructure at both the South African and Australian sites.
By the second Treaty negotiation meeting in January, good progress had been made by the working groups and a productive meeting put us in a good position to finalise the Treaty later this year. The next meeting to further develop the Treaty is set for late April.
There have been several significant discoveries of note in radio astronomy recently, with ICRAR and CSIRO leading the way. Not least of these is the detection of gravitational waves<https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/news/ligo20160211>, as described in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which were observed for the first time by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) with Australian scientists<http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2016/Aussie-innovation-helps-hunt-down-gravitational-waves> playing a small part in the success. Further, investigating gravity waves will be one of the key science areas for the SKA once constructed.
CSIRO’s Parkes telescope was instrumental in finding never-before-seen galaxies hidden behind the Milky Way, in a project led by ICRAR’s Professor Lister Staveley-Smith. This story featured heavily in mainstream media including both the Sydney Morning Herald<http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/astronomers-discover-nearly-a-thousand-hidden-galaxies-behind-the-milky-way-20160208-gmo73p.html> and the ABC<http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-10/the-great-attractor-milky-way-zone-of-avoidance-survey/7152216>. Very recently, CSIRO’s Australian Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri discovered a fast radio burst (FRB)<http://scitechdaily.com/astronomers-identify-the-precise-location-of-a-fast-radio-burst-in-a-distant-galaxy/>, one of only 16 discovered to date - largely due to the difficulties in detecting them. Looking forward, the SKA with its extreme sensitivity, resolution and a wide field of view is well positioned to discover more of these phenomena.
The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) has seen significant development on the solar farm with the installation of some 5000 photovoltaic panels <http://www.atnf.csiro.au/projects/askap/news_power_29012016.html> on approximately two hectares of support frames now underway. A battery, set to be the largest of its type in Australia, is being designed to contain the power generated in a joint collaboration between CSIRO and contractor, Energy Made Clean (EMC).

I look forward to updating you on further project developments soon.
Kind Regards,

David Luchetti
Australian SKA Project Director
Australian Square Kilometre Array Office
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Level 9, 10 Binara Street, Canberra City ACT 2601
GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601
Ph: +61-2-6213 6068  Mob: +61 411 021 135
Email:  david.luchetti at industry.gov.au<mailto:david.luchetti at industry.gov.au>
Internet: www.ska.gov.au<http://www.ska.gov.au/>

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