SiA Leads with 1st Light – Quest to Find the Dawn of Creation

This event is for any sci-fi buff out there that believes there is more to this universe than what we can see today… it is being held in conjunction with Study in Australia – head on down and take a look at the educating opportunities downunder – itsReal cool

21 March 2009 12 noon Suntec Singapore Hall 402 Level 4

First Light – Science’s Quest to find the Dawn of Creation presented by Perth Education City
Meet two world famous professors from Perth leading the SKA Project, one of the world’s largest science projects and find out how & why this can create career opportunities in science, engineering, astronomy, physics & maths. Free Admission

Australian Education Showcase 2009 – Explore Australia. Discover Yourself.


more info on the SKA Project

$20m radio astronomy centre to proceed

by Mark Beyer

WA Business News

The state government has confirmed that the University of Western Australia will be the headquarters of a new $20 million radio astronomy research centre that is designed to help WA win the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project.

Science and Innovation Minister Troy Buswell today announced a package of measures to promote WA’s chances of winning the international SKA project.

These include the establishment of an International Radio Astronomy Research Centre as an equal joint venture between UWA and Curtin.

However, UWA appears to have won the lead role. The centre’s administrative office will be at UWA, as reported in last week’s WA Business News, and UWA’s Professor Peter Quinn has been appointed centre director.

A governing board, to be chaired by former Environmental Protection Authority head Bernard Bowen, will be appointed shortly to oversee the centre.

UWA vice-chancellor Alan Robson said the university has made a funding commitment of around $30 million towards the centre.

Mr Buswell’s and UWA’s announcements are pasted below:

Multiple announcements today by Science and Innovation Minister Troy Buswell demonstrated the Liberal-National Government’s strong commitment to maintaining Western Australia’s bid to secure the internationally significant Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-astronomy project.

Mr Buswell said that since coming to office in late September, the Liberal-National Government had progressed matters to a new level and positioned the State very favourably in the race against southern Africa to be chosen as home to the $2.5billion project.

He announced that:
– funding approval has been given for $4million for the purchase of Boolardy Station, 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton to house the massive facility
– The Office of Native Title has been authorised to pursue its role as lead negotiator in the establishment of a Boolardy land use agreement
– negotiations have been completed with the University of WA and Curtin University of Technology to jointly establish an International Radio Astronomy Research Centre (IRARC) in Perth with a branch at Geraldton.

The SKA plan is for a revolutionary next-generation radio telescope 50-100 times more sensitive than present day instruments. It will involve an array of several thousand receiver dishes with a collecting area of one million square metres.

The revolutionary project is being developed by scientists from 50 institutions across 19 countries for construction over the period 2012-20 at a projected cost of around $A2.5 billion. It will be globally linked and have 10,000 times the capacity of current radio telescopes to make discoveries.

Australia and southern Africa have been identified as the most likely suitable sites for the project, with WA’s Murchison region standing out as an ideal location because of its rare and exceptional radio quietness.

A strategy to enhance WA’s claim to the project has been developed in collaboration with the Federal Government and Australia’s premier science agency, the CSIRO. It aims to build Australia’s expertise in the radio astronomy field and to have a site and the necessary support arrangements planned and ready.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government is funding the construction of the new Pathfinder telescope in the Murchison. Pathfinder will be one of the world’s foremost radio telescopes and an important test-bed for SKA technology.

Boolardy Station

If WA wins the SKA project, Boolardy homestead will become base for the accommodation and support facilities serving a giant SKA observatory 40 kilometres away on the historic 350,000 hectare pastoral lease.

The Minister said securing Boolardy was an important step, demonstrating that Australia was organised and could offer a superb core site that was managed and protected.

International Radio Astronomy Research Centre

IRARC will be an equal joint venture between UWA and Curtin with its administrative office at UWA and research being conducted at both campuses. The State will contribute $20million towards its establishment and operation.

The centre will be run by an eminent group of WA-based scientists who have played major roles in developing the concept and have expert knowledge of the SKA project.

UWA’s Professor Peter Quinn, a Premier’s Fellow in Astronomy has been appointed centre director, together with deputy directors Professor Steven Tingay and Professor Peter Hall, both leading radio astronomers based at Curtin and Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, also a Premier’s Fellow in Astronomy at UWA.

Mr Buswell said a governing board to oversee the centre would be announced shortly. It will be chaired by former Environmental Protection Authority head Bernard Bowen.

He said it was imperative that Australia continued to develop and promote its case to host the SKA. The Commonwealth had spent $118million and the State more than $29million so far on leading edge R&D and radio astronomy related activities demonstrating Australia’s prime candidacy.

“The potential benefits, in terms of investment, jobs and science capability, are huge,” he said.

“This Government will do everything it possibly can to make WA home to this exciting international facility.”

The Minister has written to the Federal Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr informing him of WA’s latest actions and confirming the new Liberal-National Government was committed to helping win the SKA.


The University of Western Australia has welcomed the State Government announcement of a $20 million international radio astronomy research centre on UWA’s Perth campus.

In a joint venture with Curtin University of Technology, UWA will drive Australia’s bid to be the site of a new radio telescope capable of seeing the early stages of the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.

The Centre will be led by Professor Peter Quinn, a Premier’s fellow in astronomy, considered one of the world’s foremost experts in astronomy and astrophysics.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the location of the centre was recognition of UWA’s continuing commitment to outstanding research in support of the national bid for the Square Kilometre Array.

“Our research expertise, in particular the work of our Premier’s fellows Professor Quinn and Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, is world-class. We look forward to collaborating with Curtin University of Technology in this internationally important venture,” said Professor Robson.

“Our University will be making a funding commitment, valued at around $30 million, making this one of the largest hubs for research in radio astronomy in the world.”

The two billion dollar Square Kilometre Array project, commonly referred to as SKA, will be the world’s largest ground-based telescope array.

If won by Australia, the array would be based in the “radio-quiet” Murchison region, north-east of Geraldton.

Professor Robson said UWA was committed to the development of the region in which the SKA project would be housed if Western Australia won the bid and had visited Geraldton last week for talks with local government, educational and other groups.

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