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West Australian Premier launches $100million centre to boost megaproject chances

Media release

In a bid to host the largest scientific project of the early 21st century, Premier Colin Barnett today launched the $100 million International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth.

The Centre is a joint venture between Curtin University of Technology and The University of Western Australia (UWA) and is sponsored by the State Government.  The CSIRO and iVEC are both collaborating partners.

Designed to play a pivotal role in Australia’s effort to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), ICRAR will coordinate WA’s radio astronomy research.

The Centre will be led by some of Australia’s most eminent astronomers who are based at the two universities.  They include Director Professor Peter Quinn and Deputy-Directors Professors Steven Tingay, Lister Staveley-Smith and Peter Hall.  Quinn, Tingay and Staveley-Smith are Premier’s Fellows and Hall is Australia’s only Professor of Radio Astronomy Engineering.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the Centre was the embodiment of WA’s continuing commitment to outstanding research in support of the national bid for the SKA project.

“The establishment of this Centre will allow WA to attract more of the world’s leading radio astronomers,” Professor Robson said.

“It will create a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the success of these radio astronomy projects.”

Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeanette Hacket said the development of ICRAR, combined with large investments from the universities and government, would help to make Australia an attractive location for the SKA.

“This project has the potential to make WA the international hub of radio astronomy and computing research.

“Radio astronomy and the SKA bid are significant research priorities for Australia and the international astronomy community” she said.

“Along with the significant commitment of our partners in government and education we are working to make WA the chosen location for this project.”

The SKA, involving 19 countries from around the world, will be the most powerful radio telescope on Earth, with the ability to examine the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.

If won by Australia – one of two countries shortlisted to be the project’s home – the primary facilities would be based in the ‘radio-quiet’ Murchison region, north-east of Geraldton.

The State Government provided $20 million funding and UWA and Curtin have contributed the remainder as funding and in kind support, making ICRAR one of the largest hubs for research in radio astronomy in the world.

For more information visit the ICRAR website.

Julia Nicol (Curtin Public Relations) (+61 8 ) 9266 7711 / (+61 4) 09 202 134
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8 ) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716