CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science
CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) is part of CSIRO’s Digital, National Facilities and Collections group, along with other national facilities that are owned and operated by CSIRO but used extensively by external researchers. CASS operates the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), comprising a set of world-class radio-astronomy observatories including the Parkes 64-metre radio telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) in New South Wales, and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia. CSIRO also manages Australian astronomers’ access to the antennas of NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, which is located at Tidbinbilla in the Australian Capital Territory. These antennas are often used in conjunction with ATNF telescopes. CASS has a key role in the radio astronomy community, by designing, constructing, operating, and providing access to leading radio observatories for astronomers in Australia and worldwide. We ensure that our facilities remain on the cutting edge of technology and science by leading key research programs within CASS.
Our key areas of astrophysical research are:
- The star formation cycle in galaxies
- Gas, Feedback, and Galaxy Evolution with Radio Surveys
- Cosmic magnetism
- The transient Universe: Pulsars and Fast
Radio Bursts CSIRO is a partner institute in the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). MWA-related activity is at the focus of efforts within CASS toward enabling the low-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be sited at the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) operated by CASS. The astronomical research at CASS is enabled by a strong engineering research program that focuses on developing, and applying, new technology and advanced design techniques to radio astronomy and allied fields. Expertise within the organisation spans a very wide range, from ultra-low-noise millimetrewave receivers, through the spectrum of digital signal processing, to precision servo control systems. A key strength is CASS’s leading role in developing and realising the Phased Array Feed technology at the heart of ASKAP and now being adopted at other radio observatories around the world. These new instruments produce a tremendous data volume, requiring sophisticated new computational techniques developed in-house by CASS and in collaboration with partners such as the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.
The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University (Curtin) and The University of Western Australia (UWA), with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. By attracting a diverse team of world-class researchers and collaborating with other leading institutions, ICRAR has grown into an internationally renowned centre for astronomical research in just a few years. The centre employs over 100 staff, trains more than 45 graduate students across its two nodes (Curtin and UWA) and has published more than 1200 peer-reviewed journal articles since 2009. ICRAR’s research focus is for the scientific capabilities enabled by the next generation of radio telescopes and the technology necessary to realise these endeavours. The centre’s key areas of research are:
- Accretion Physics
- Gas and Feedback with Radio Surveys
- Multi-wavelength and Spectroscopic Surveys
- Computational Theory and Modelling
- Low Frequency Radio Astronomy
- Epoch of Reionisation
- Data Science
- Radio Astronomy Engineering
ICRAR’s science program is based on the instinctive human endeavour to understand more about the nature of everything around us. Making sense of the information from new generation telescopes such as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will vastly expand our view and understanding of the Universe. ICRAR’s engineering program is supported by 14 core team members with specialisations in antenna design, electromagnetic compatibility and radio-frequency systems. The program is integral to ICRAR’s aim to participate in the end-to-end design, construction, data processing and science extraction for the SKA. The centre’s broad and world-class capabilities in both radio astronomy and engineering have been demonstrated through the successful delivery of the MWA and an SKA verification system. These engineering feats are now guiding the SKA’s lowfrequency design.