On Saturday 1 March, the ‘red carpet’ (a.k.a red sand) was rolled out at our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia for Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, who visited the site to learn more about Australia’s role in the international Square Kilometre Array project.
The group was accompanied by CSIRO Information Sciences Head Dave Williams, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Chief Lewis Ball and ASKAP Project Director Ant Schinckel, who provided a guided walk-around CSIRO’s latest and newest radio telescope, the SKA precursor instrument known as ASKAP.
Minister Bishop was impressed by the projects underway at the MRO, including our ASKAP telescope and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), and noted the importance of collaboration within the SKA project.
“Australia and the United Kingdom, together with the other SKA partner countries, are working very hard to design and develop the telescope and the two SKA precursor telescopes already in place in Western Australia are already leading the way,” said Ms Bishop.
The MRO will be home to key components of the future telescope SKA-Survey and SKA-Low. This widefield fly over of the SKA-Survey telescope shows how the configuration may look at the MRO. Credit: SKA Office.
The visiting UK Minister was also enthusiastic about the progress of the SKA project, the headquarters of which are based in Manchester, UK.
“Australia and the UK have a rich history of collaboration on major science projects and we value the relationship between our countries on this important project,” Mr Willetts said, “This is a very exciting time for the Square Kilometre Array telescope and it is obvious when you visit the site that Australia shares my strong sense of anticipation and expectation for the project.”
Minister Bishop and Minister Willets in front of our ASKAP antennas at the MRO; the visitors at the base of an ASKAP antenna; and CASS Chief Lewis Ball talks with Minister Willets and CSIRO Information Sciences Lead Dave Williams.
Read the official media release here, or find out more information about Australia and the SKA.