A new $2 million communications antenna will transform Australian satellite tracking capabilities offered to local and international partners.
In partnership with the Australian Space Agency, the University of Tasmania (UTAS) unveiled its unique and sophisticated 7.3 metre antenna at its Greenhill Observatory. It is now the southernmost antenna of its kind in the world.
The Australian Space Agency’s Space Infrastructure Fund supported the new antenna. The fund is critical in addressing gaps in national space infrastructure to speed up Australia’s delivery of space-based services and increase its space contribution globally.
The new infrastructure will also help Australia further develop its capability in space situational awareness. Space situational awareness is the monitoring and tracking of space-based objects in orbit, such as satellites and debris. This is a field of space that Australia can play a leading role, given our geographical advantages.
Each year the number of satellites launched into orbit increases. This means we need innovative techniques and tracking technologies to reduce the chance of spacecraft collisions. This new antenna will help with this growing challenge, protecting satellites and other vital technologies from debris in space.
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said this new capability further cements Australia’s position as a strong and attractive partner in space.
“Australia is deeply experienced in spacecraft tracking and communications, and our geographical advantages provide an added boost to this capability,” Mr Palermo explained.
“University of Tasmania’s upgraded facilities will further advance Australia’s expertise in this area and open doors to exciting new research and commercial partnerships.”
“Space technology, like satellites, is critical in supporting our everyday life and national wellbeing, and the new antenna will track and protect vital technology in space that we rely on here on Earth.”
A highly skilled team from UTAS will operate the new infrastructure at Greenhill Observatory. The team will provide space-to-earth communications for low-earth-orbit satellites and various ground support to space missions.
The University of Tasmania is a leader in space sciences, and the only university in the world that operates a continental-scale array of antennas.