Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of The Netherlands visited Curtin University today as part of a State visit to Australia, to hear about the role the University, and its Dutch and other international partners play in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project – the world’s largest radio telescope.
The King and Queen viewed an SKA mini-station, a prototype of the antennas and electronics to be installed in the Murchison region of Western Australia. They also met with Dutch and local researchers who work on the SKA at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
As part of the visit, the Royal couple toured the HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch) at the University’s Bentley campus.
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said she was delighted to have welcomed the King and Queen to the University.
“We feel honoured to have Their Majesties visit Curtin as part of their busy tour of Australia,” Professor Terry said.
“Australian and The Netherlands radio astronomy communities have strong historic links, and the visit was an opportunity for Curtin to showcase the work we are doing with our Dutch partners on the SKA project, and also demonstrate the capabilities of the HIVE to create virtual reality simulations.”
Curtin, along with ASTRON – The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy – and four other international partners, are developing engineering prototypes and scientific techniques for SKA Low, the low-frequency component of the international SKA telescope that will investigate early Universe cosmology, pulsars and transient radio sources.
Professor Peter Hall, Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy and ICRAR Engineering Director said the Australian and Dutch Governments were committed to innovation and radio astronomy.
“The Federal and Western Australian Governments, along with the Dutch Government, have made substantial investments in pathfinder telescopes in both countries, and in new prototype instruments now being built in the Murchison,” Professor Hall said.
Their Majesties were presented with a copy of The Journal, a radio astronomy children’s novel by Dutch author Anke den Duyn, which has been published in Dutch and English through the support of ICRAR/Curtin and ASTRON.
The visit by the King and Queen to WA coincides with the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dutch skipper Dirk Hartog on what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island.