Australia’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) effort has received a major boost from the Australian Research Council’s new Super Science Fellowships, announced on 8 April 2010 by Senator the Hon. Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
Twenty-one of the 100 new awards, valued at almost $5 million over the next five years, are for research related to developing SKA pathfinder instruments in Australia or using those instruments to undertake ground-breaking research.
CSIRO has been awarded three Super Science Fellowships, worth a total of $835,000 over three years, to develop technology for the SKA.
The Acting Chief of CSIRO’s Division of Astronomy and Space Science, Dr Lewis Ball, said the CSIRO Fellows will work to refine a device CSIRO has pioneered for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope that is being built at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. The device is an innovative radio camera (or “phased array feed”) that sits at the focal centre of each ASKAP dish to receive incoming cosmic radio waves.
“These fellowships will help ensure Australia’s readiness for the SKA, boosting essential research and development at the interface between engineering and astronomy within CSIRO and in University groups in Australia and around the world,” Dr Ball said.
Other awards have gone to:
The Anglo Australian Observatory ($1.1million for four fellowship) for its Galaxy Genome Project which will combine data from AAO's ongoing and planned survey programs with data from other new Australian facilities, such as Australian National University’s SkyMapper and CSIRO’s ASKAP telescope. The AAO has world-leading strengths in wide-field survey astronomy and multi-object spectrographs.
The University of Sydney ($835,200 for three fellowships) for projects using the world-leading survey capabilities of ASKAP to search for transient sources, faint galaxies and to investigate cosmic magnetism. The projects will produce data resources and software that will assist future SKA projects.
Curtin University of Technology ($835,200 for three fellowships) to support early science from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), another SKA pathfinder telescope being built at the MRO. The early science results from the MWA will showcase the excellence of the Australian site for radio astronomy.
The University of Western Australia ($556,800 for two fellowships) for a project to search for neutral hydrogen in the Universe to improve our understanding of the origin and continuing evolution of galaxies. The project will use ASKAP and new supercomputers being built at the Pawsey High Performance Computing Centre for SKA Science in Perth.
The University of Tasmania ($556,800 for two fellowships) for projects using ASKAP and another new very long baseline array facility in Australia to study galaxies as well as terrestrial geophysical phenomena such as continental drift and sea-level rise.
Swinburne University of Technology ($556,800 for two fellowships) will use ASKAP to help discover the process of how galaxies assemble across cosmic time. This project will lead to the development of new computing and instrumentation technologies through Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.
The University of Melbourne ($278,400 for one fellowship) for a project using the MWA to explore the early origins of the Universe including seeking to determine when the first sources of light appeared.
Monash University ($278 400 for one fellowship) plans to use Australia’s developing ASKAP technologies to understand how galaxies (including the Milky Way) grow and evolve by exploring the connection between galaxies and their environments.
The Super Science Fellowships are designed to give early career researchers the opportunity to work in areas of national significance.
Space science and astronomy is one of the three areas targeted by the Australian Research Council for the first round of Fellowships, the other two are marine and climate science, and future industries (biotechnology and nanotechnology).
For more information on the Super Science Fellowships, visit the Australian Research Council website at http://www.arc.gov.au/ncgp/ssf/ssf_outcomes.htm.
Image: Artist's impression of dishes that will make up the SKA radio telescope. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/SKA Program Development Office.