UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY
Gateway to the Antarctic, productive agricultural food hub, UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness, the cleanest air in the world and net carbon negative status… there are many things Tasmania is known for, if not renown for, across the globe. Surface level thinking just doesn’t cut it down here, which becomes clear when you meet the locals, and this has led to innovation and excellence across a diversity of sectors and endeavours.
One of these less commonly known feats, is the work that Tasmania has been quietly undertaking recently to position the state as a leader in our nation’s commercial and scientific space sector, with Tasmania set to play a leading role in developing the nation’s sovereign space domain awareness capabilities.
Space domain awareness refers to the study and monitoring of artificial objects such as satellites and debris orbiting the Earth. As the number of satellites that are launched continues to increase, the need for innovative and cost-effective means to keep track of what is in orbit is a real issue, that Tasmania is fortunately in prime position both geographically and academically, to solve.
A collaboration established in 2021 between the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government and HENSOLDT Australia, a technology solutions company, marked an exciting era for space research in Tasmania, leveraging the island’s clear skies, unique southern location and research and development expertise.
Managing five telescopes across Australia, University of Tasmania is the only university in the world with a continent-wide array of telescopes, giving the institution a significant history in space research built on the efforts of remarkably entrepreneurial astronomers. Research undertaken by UTAS has helped discover new planets, support the critical global positioning system and expanded our understanding of what goes on in deep space.
The applications for space tracking and space domain awareness technology are endless, with early adoption and access to satellite data delivering significant competitive advantage to a wide range of industries, improving capability across bushfire and crop monitoring practices to defence and forestry applications.
In recognition of Tasmania’s capacity across space research, HENSOLDT Australia has opened an office in Hobart and recently donated an Equatorial Mount for the University of Tasmania’s Greenhill Observatory, further strengthening the State’s leadership role in the commercial and scientific space sector and taking UTAS’s telescopes to an infrastructure investment of more than $100 million.
The move has been welcomed by Tasmania’s State Government, with Minister for Science and Technology, Madeleine Ogilvie MP calling HENSOLDT a pioneer in Tasmania.
“The Tasmanian Government are pleased that HENSOLDT Australia has chosen to make Tasmania it’s home. HENSOLDT is a pioneer in Tasmania and the first space company to establish a presence in our state.
“We anticipate this partnership will provide the catalyst for growth in Tasmania’s space sector.
We are already seeing interest from Tasmanian businesses for how they can partner and participate in this exciting industry.”
With space an industry that sparks the imagination and captures the achievement of humanity like no other, this TEAM TASMANIA partnership is nation leading, with all eyes on the sky and Tasmania, tracking the remarkable work being undertaken here.
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Top Image Credit – Pierre Destribats