The Australian National University (ANU) has welcomed funding from both the Federal Government and the ACT Government to expand its capability in adaptive optics and quantum communication. The Australian Research Council has supported the development of a new laser system for the first Australian laser guide star to be developed at the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) The laser guide star system will be crucial for civil and defence telescopes such as the new Giant Magellan Telescope under construction in Chile, as well as systems to track space debris. “The ground-based telescopes used to study the universe, image satellites or track space debris all require laser guide star adaptive optics to defeat the blurring caused by atmospheric turbulence,” Assoc Prof d’Orgeville said. “The semiconductor guide star laser is a key component of these systems, and the AITC will now be in a position to provide a complete solution to the problem.” The Space Based Quantum Communications project also leverages the AITC’s adaptive optics expertise. The project brings together the space, telescope, adaptive optics, quantum information and optical communications capabilities of the ANU Department of Quantum Science, the AITC, UNSW Canberra, and ANU spin out companies, QuintessenceLabs and Liquid Instruments. This project is supported by the ACT Government through funds allocated in its 2015 Business Development Strategy. The ACT Government has identified Space, Satellite and Spatial Science as one of its seven key capability areas and a priority area for investment.
The Quantum Communication project will demonstrate the technology for the ACT to host an Australian quantum ground station to support secure space communication links. It will demonstrate a secure quantum communication link between scientists at the AITC at Mount Stromlo and the UNSW Canberra optical telescope. “Secure quantum communications will be crucial to future space industries, and we welcome the ACT Government support for this key project.” said ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Advancement Prof Mick Cardew-Hall. These projects will be showcased at the IAC 2017 in Adelaide.