Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory

View over the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Credit: Ant Schinckel, CSIRO.

ASKAP will be located in the Mid West region of Western Australia at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), approximately 315km northeast of Geraldton.

The MRO is ideal for radio astronomy as it exhibits excellent sky coverage, superb radio quietness, ionospheric stability and benign tropospheric conditions. The extremely low levels of radio-frequency interference will allow highly sensitive instruments such as ASKAP to conduct ground-breaking astronomy research.

In addition to ASKAP, two other experiments are currently located at the MRO: the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature (EDGES).

In May 2012, the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation announced that the SKA will be implemented across two main sites: the CSIRO-run MRO and surrounding Mid West Radio-Quiet Zone in Western Australia, and southern Africa.

We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji people as the traditional owners of the MRO site.

Radio-Quiet Zone

The MRO site is situated within the area protected for radio astronomy by Section 19 of the WA Mining Act and a WA-managed Radio Telescope Mineral Resource Management Area.

On 21 September 2007 the Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a new Radiocommunications Assignment and Licensing Instruction (RALI) [300kB PDF] to establish a radio-quiet zone over the site.

In July 2011, the ACMA announced enhanced measures for the protection of the Mid West Radio-quiet Zone (RQZ) to further support the development of the MRO.

A new Frequency Band Plan now provides greater legislative certainty for levels of technical protection and extends the frequency range of the Mid West RQZ.

The Band Plan extends to 150km radius, as for the previous Embargo, and a new inner zone of 70km radius has been created, within which radio astronomy is the primary service. The Mid West RQZ coordination zone still extends to 260km radius via the ACMA RALI MS 32 introduced in 2007. Read more.

The ACMA measures adequately protect the Radio-Quiet Zone for radio astronomy, while not placing an unacceptable burden on surrounding activities. CSIRO has worked closely with the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments to establish the MRO.

CSIRO has produced a Mid West Radio-Quiet Zone factsheet which provides more information for pastoralists and others interested in the RQZ.

Powering the MRO

In June 2010, the Federal Government announced that CSIRO will receive $47.3 million for the development of solar and geothermal energy technologies to power the MRO and its associated computing facility, the Pawsey High Performance Computing Centre for SKA Science. Read more.

Development of the MRO – Industry Briefings

Industry briefing sessions on the services being sought for the development of the MRO (for example, surveys, infrastructure design, site works and support, power generation, as well as power and fibre reticulation), were held in Sydney and Perth in February 2009. Presentations delivered at the briefings can be found here. These give an overview of the scope and timescale of the MRO development and how CSIRO is managing this development.

Opportunities for Industry

Information on opportunities for industry to be involved in the development of ASKAP can be found on the industry page.

Further Information

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