25 November 2010

New space research centre launched

Climate change, drought and water storage are serious problems faced by Australia but the lack of data significantly limits the reliability of climate predictions.

The problem is a shortage of ground-based meteorological observation stations and of accurate data over the world's oceans and polar regions.

A new Centre at RMIT University focusing on platform technologies for space, atmosphere and climate will help with this challenge – putting Australia in a leading position in the study of atmospheric mass density and applications of satellite technologies in climate and space weather.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said the University was part of an international research community seeking innovative solutions to address emerging global problems using frontier technologies.

"The RMIT research framework provides a platform for interdisciplinary groupings, bringing together teams of researchers from diverse backgrounds to address complex problems," Professor Gardner said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Daine Alcorn, said that RMIT’s Satellite Positioning for Atmosphere, Climate and Environment (SPACE) Research Centre aimed to become a serious player in the global space community.

"The centre’s goal is to conduct world-class research, education and innovation activities, and to explore new opportunities in promoting knowledge creation, technology innovation and competitiveness for Australian space science and industry," Professor Alcorn said.

Professor Kefei Zhang, Director of the SPACE Research Centre, said satellite-based remote sensing provided a low-cost, powerful means of precise measurement of characteristics of the earth environment on a global scale.

"Geo-environmental satellite programs such as the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC) will allow high-accuracy monitoring of climatic hazards," Professor Zhang said.

"New platforms for in-space tracking and navigation, precise positioning, space weather, atmospheric modelling and climate monitoring will play a critical role in supporting future Australian satellite missions."

Professor Zhang will lead researchers from the Bureau of Meteorology, Curtin University of Technology, the University of NSW, Electro Optic Systems Space System, GPSat Systems Australia Pty Ltd, National Space Organisation Taiwan and NOAA's World Data Centre for Meteorology.

The RMIT SPACE Research Centre, launched last week, is part of the Australian Government’s recent space-related initiatives to support national strategic, economic and social objectives.

The Centre has been established through the support of a multi-million dollar, merit-based competitive grant from the Australian Space Research Program as part of its Space Science and Innovation funding stream.

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