Canberra is set to establish itself as Australia’s gateway to space, with a series of significant investments in its growing space industry and space technologies led by The Australian National University (ANU).
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government launched the ACT Space Update 2023 on Friday, at an event hosted by ANU Institute of Space (InSpace) in Canberra.
The update aims to attract space-focused businesses and research organisations to Canberra, and includes a plan to develop a Canberra Space Hub, which will act as a connection point between research, industry and government.
Boost for bushfire space project
In support of the update, Australia's leading space research centre SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) announced a suite of new Research & Development (R&D) projects and university appointments, bringing their joint investment in the ACT to over $7 million.
“ANU InSpace is delighted to be working with the SmartSat CRC and ACT Government on a range of projects that lift our sovereign manufacturing sector and solve some of society’s greatest challenges, including climate change adaptation," says Professor Anna Moore, Director, ANU InSpace.
One of the two new research projects co-funded by SmartSat and ACT Government brings together ANU and EOS Space Systems to deliver advanced manufacturing technologies for the OzFuel instrument.
ANU InSpace and its partners will receive $1.3 million to contribute to the Resilience Mission and the development of OzFuel, a space-based sensor platform that will assist in bushfire prevention, detection, mitigation and resilience.
Currently, fire management is dependent on an ageing fleet of foreign satellites that are not designed for monitoring Australian ecosystems and their associated fire risk. This project will position Australia as a credible global provider of space sourced environmental information, underpinned by bushfire science and on-ground First Nations traditional knowledge.
Associate Professor Marta Yebra, from the ANU School of Engineering and Fenner School of Environment and Society, and Professor Rob Sharp from the ANU College of Science, will serve as ANU Project Leads on the project.
"The OzFuel instrument is set to make a big difference in how we manage bushfires, from planning to response," said Associate Professor Marta Yebra. "Its unique capability to monitor landscape flammability not only helps our space industry grow, but also makes Australia an important part of the global observing system. It's not just about technology development; we're working on reducing risks and building a safer future."
The second project brings together Infinity Avionics, UNSW Canberra and Nominal Systems to develop capabilities in Space-Based Space Surveillance.
ANU experts appointed Professorial Chairs
SmartSat CRC has also backed two Professorial Chair appointments at ANU, drawing on our top researchers to spearhead the development of next generation space technologies.
Professor Kirk McKenzie, from the Research School of Physics, is the Professorial Chair of Precision Measurement in Space, while Professor Hanna Kurniawati, from our School of Computing, is Professorial Chair for System Autonomy, Intelligence and Decision Making.
"I am grateful and excited for this opportunity," says Professor Kurniawati. "Space technologies are entering a new era that will become increasingly important to our daily lives, and being in the Southern hemisphere, Australia has a geographical advantage in this domain."