Gemini and SKA MNRF: Australia's Astronomy Future

Mission: To maximise Australia’s engagement in the new generation of optical/infrared and radio telescopes, through world-class scientific research and innovative instrument development programs.

The Australian Astronomy Major National Research Facility (MNRF) is a $52m collaborative venture involving nearly all major astronomical institutions in Australia.   Its aim is to take a unified approach to securing significant Australian participation in major new international astronomical facilities at both optical/infrared and radio wavelengths, represented by Gemini and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) respectively. The MNRF proposal was written in 2001, funding commenced in 2002, and will continue until 2007.
Gemini North in moonlight
(Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)
The Molonglo Synthesis Telescope at Sunset

    The specific objectives of the Facility are to:

  • increase Australia’s share of premier optical/infrared telescopes such as the Gemini 8-metre twin telescopes;
  • develop enabling technologies for Australia to play a key role in, and host, the Square Kilometre Array, the
    centimetre-wave radiotelescope of the future; and
  • use this position to develop the Australian astronomical instrumentation industry.

    The MNRF is divided into ten projects. One of these is the MNRF Office, three relate to Gemini, and six relate to the SKA.

    The Gemini Project supports

  • Australian use of the Gemini telescopes by paying for an additional 1.43% share in the
    Gemini Partnership, as well as purchasing additional nights on Gemini South.
  • Gemini instrumention:

    The SKA related projects are:

  • New Technology Demonstrator or NTD, which aims to demonstrate wide field-of-view solutions to many of the science drivers for SKA. The NTD is scheduled for completion in mid-2007.
  • Millimetre Monolithic Integrated Circuits or MMICs, which is a project to develop integrated receivers for phased arrays and high-speed digital devices for data sampling and tranmission.
  • Compact Array Broadband Backend or CABB - as a test bed for future SKA technologies a broadband backend system is being designed and built for the ATCA. The system would provide an unprecedented wide bandwidth from the ATCA's current 128 MHz to 2 GHz, a factor of 16 improvement. A major component of this system will be a new polyphase digital filter bank for spectral processing prior to correlation.
  • SKA siting studies. A proposal to host the SKA in Australia (with the candidate core site in Mileura, WA) was submitted to the International SKA Steering Committee in December 2005.
  • The SKA Molonglo Prototype
  • SKA Supercomputing Simulation (SKASS)

    Further details of these projects can be found in the 2004/2005 MNRF Annual Report (pdf, 1.5 MB)

    Links to Information and results from MNRF-funded projects



    Links to other sites

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