21 Oct 2020

Moon to Earth: WA to host space communications station

Goonhilly Earth Station have announced the installation of an advanced communications round station at The University of Western Australia (UWA). The optical communications station will be capable of receiving highspeed data transmissions from spacecraft anywhere between low-Earth orbit and the surface of the Moon. It has the potential to support ground-breaking space projects, including NASA’s Artemis mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

The Station is a joint initiative of UWA’s Astrophotonics Group, which is part of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) and UK industry partner Goonhilly Earth Station. The ground station will be part of a larger Australasian optical ground station network, led by the Australian National University, and with partners in South Australia, and New Zealand. Besides space communications, the ground station could also be used for applications ranging from cutting-edge fundamental physics to precision earth science and resource geophysics.

The station will use make use of a 0.7m observatory-grade optical telescope donated to CRAR by Perth local Colin Eldridge. It will be fitted with advanced atmospheric-noise suppression technology developed at UWA. The station will be connected to Goonhilly’s supercomputer data centre in Cornwall via high-speed fibre. Goonhilly handles data traffic and supports secure communications links for the world’s major satellite operators, including Intelsat, Eutelsat and SES Satellites. The company is also a partner in the European Space Agency’s Lunar Pathfinder Mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2022.

Read more here.