Australian and Chinese astronomers look to another fifty years of scientific collaboration

15 September 2015

Astronomer and Australian Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt is in China for the launch of a new “virtual” centre for Australia-China astronomical collaborations. Known as ACAMAR, the initiative was officially launched at a signing ceremony on Saturday 12th September.

Professor Schmidt is leading the Australian delegation which also includes Australia’s Ambassador to China, HE Ms Frances Adamson.

ACAMAR (the Australian-ChinA ConsortiuM for Astrophysical Research) represents both countries’ fascination with the sky and a shared drive to understand the universe more clearly. It will serve as a coordination point for bilateral astronomical collaboration, building upon a long history of Australia-China partnerships in the field. It is also the name of a bright star that is visible with the naked eye from both Australia and China.

ACAMAR will, among other things, seek to facilitate the exchange of astronomical staff and students between participating organisations; cooperate in the operation of telescopes and future development of instrumentation; and coordinate and share astronomical observations and data.

It is expected Antarctic and radio astronomy will be areas of particular interest to both countries.

Astronomy is an example of an area where China and Australia have been collaborating very successfully for over fifty years, not only producing ground-breaking science, but in designing and constructing world leading telescopes. China and Australia are key partners in the multi-national mega science project, the Square Kilometre Array.

Chinese company CETC 54 designed and supplied the 36 state-of-the-art dishes for CSIRO’s Australian SKA Precursor telescope (ASKAP) in the Mid West region of Western Australia and CSIRO has supplied cutting-edge receiver technology for use on the enormous Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou Province in China.

Professor Schmidt commented that ACAMAR aims to maximise the future scientific return on investment from both countries’ astronomy infrastructure while developing human capital in astronomy and enhancing our shared understanding of the universe.

"Australia has been working with China on astronomy for more than fifty years, but the relationship is about to get much more serious. With cooperation from the optical to the radio, we plan to embark on some world-leading projects in pursuit of scientific discovery" he said.

More information on ACAMAR is available at http://caastro.org/acamar

Image (upper): Professors Elaine Sadler, Brian Schmidt, Lifan Wang and Jun Yan at the ACAMAR launch in Beijing, 12 September 2015

Image (lower): Professor Brian Schmidt recieves a rock star’s welcome at Peking University as part of a visit in which he will launch the  Australian-ChinA ConsortiuM for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR)
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