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Address at Apollo 11 Anniversary, Tidbinbilla.



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Ministers for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

SENATOR KIM CARR - ADDRESS AT APOLLO 11 ANNIVERSARY Canberra Deep Space Communication Centre Tidbinbilla, Australian Capital Territory

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On this day forty years ago, I was a student at Gladstone High School in Queensland.

The entire student body was assembled in the cool space beneath the main building to watch the Apollo 11 landing on the school’s audio-visual system, which consisted of a black-and-white television and a coat-hanger.

The reception was so bad that it took our teachers a long time to convince us there were no blizzards on the moon.

What we didn’t know then - what even people with a decent picture didn’t know - was how much Australia had contributed to this historic mission.

Many Australian facilities played a part in its success, including:

• the now-famous dish at Parkes • an antenna called DSS-46 at Honeysuckle Creek • the manned space flight centre at Carnarvon, and • the Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre here at Tidbinbilla.

Of course, much has changed in forty years.

The Carnarvon and Honeysuckle Creek tracking stations have passed into history, and today’s ceremony marks the imminent retirement of DSS-46, which was moved here when Honeysuckle Creek closed.

But one thing that has not changed is the strength of our research relationship with the United States - not just in space science and astronomy, but across the sciences and humanities.

Super Science

That relationship will only deepen as both countries redouble their research and innovation efforts to accelerate recovery and build new pathways to prosperity.

For example, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science - which I had the honour of addressing in Washington last year - President

Innovation Minister > Senator the Hon Kim Carr

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Senator the Hon Kim Carr

20 Jul 2009

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Obama’s American Recovery and Investment Act stimulus package included US$21.5 billion for science and technology.

The Australian Government’s own Budget for 2009-10 contains an additional $3.1 billion for research and innovation.

That includes $1.1 billion for a new Super Science Initiative focusing on:

• space science and astronomy • marine and climate science, and • future industries.

The three components of the Super Science Initiative will build on Australia’s existing strengths.

They will increase our capacity to participate in global research networks and solve global problems.

And they will be mutually reinforcing.

The conquest of space is a great international endeavour - once driven by competition, now driven by collaboration.

As today’s anniversary reminds us, Australia has played and will continue to play a vital part in that endeavour.

Climate change is another challenge requiring an international response - and once again, Australia is in the vanguard.

There were more than 100 Australians among the 2,500 international scientists who produced the landmark assessment report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 - many of them serving as lead authors.

They were drawn from universities, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Antarctic Division, and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem CRC.

In fact, Australian scientists have been involved in dozens of international climate-science projects over many years - including projects led by our longstanding partners at NASA.

This is a reminder of the close connections between space and climate science.

Satellite technology and the space science behind it have given us an understanding of the earth’s climate we could never have obtained if we had stayed rooted to the ground.

Space-borne instruments monitor temperature, winds, humidity, and the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

They measure soil moisture, vegetation cover, ocean height and sensitivity, oil spills, snow cover, and the condition of our polar icecaps.

At the same time, astronomers - like all of us - will benefit from advances in climate science that help us to tackle global warming and its consequences.

As Isaac Newton pointed out three centuries ago, the best celestial observations are made in the “most serene and quiet Air”.

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There won’t be much air like that left if we don’t get serious about climate change.

That’s why the future industries component of the Super Science Initiative includes funding for emerging technologies that will help us break our carbon dependency.

It also includes $182 million for new supercomputing capacity to support data-intensive research - including in space science and climate science.

Announcement

Astronomy has made huge strides in the decades since 1969, and it is essential that we maintain the momentum.

During that time we have seen the construction of large telescopes - like the 4-metre Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Spring, which has been for many years the world’s most productive instrument in its class.

The Super Science Initiative includes additional funding to secure its future.

We have also seen the development of very large telescopes - like the 8-metre Gemini observatories in Hawaii and Chile, in which

And soon we will be seeing the next generation of extremely large telescopes - like the 24.5-metre Giant Magellan Telescope to be built in Chile.

It is my very great pleasure to announce today that the Australian Government will allocate $88.4 million from the Education Investment

Fund to support Australia’s involvement in the international consortium that will build the GMT.

The consortium includes:

• six institutions in the United States • one in South Korea • the Australian National University, and • Astronomy Australia Limited, which represents universities and research agencies around the country.

As announced in the Budget, Astronomy Australia will also receive a separate grant of $10 million under the Super Science Initiative to continue its important work of coordinating the development of Australia’s astronomical infrastructure.

Of the new investment we are announcing today, $65 million will be used to help build the Giant Magellan Telescope.

This will give Australia a 10 per cent share of the observatory.

Critically, it will also open up opportunities for innovative Australian companies and institutions, which we want to see involved in designing, building and equipping the facility.

That’s why the balance of this investment - $23.4 million - will be used to develop new engineering and instrument-making capabilities at ANU’s Mount Stromlo Campus, where we expect many GMT components to be produced.

Australia is already providing critical instrumentation for the Gemini telescopes in Hawaii and Chile,

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and there is no reason why we can’t repeat and extend that success on the GMT.

The Commonwealth’s investment is expected to create at least 240 jobs in Australia during the construction phase.

Once the observatory is built, it will be the turn of our astronomers to show once again why Australia is a world-leader in space science.

They will play a critical part in achieving the telescope’s research objectives, which include unlocking the secrets of how planets, stars and galaxies are formed, and how they have evolved since the Big Bang.

When we look at the moon, we see it as it was a second ago, because that’s how long it takes the light to reach us.

This telescope will be able to detect objects so far away that we will be seeing them as they were 13 billion years ago - taking us back to the very beginnings of the universe.

And the image quality will be stunning - ten times sharper than we get from the Hubble Space Telescope.

It will be like switching from the lousy reception we endured in Gladstone forty years ago to high-definition TV.

The future Australia has now signed up for two of the biggest scientific projects of our time - the Giant Magellan optical telescope and the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope, which we hope will be built in Western Australia.

Together, these will enable us to study:

• not just visible objects in space, but the invisible forces at work on those objects • not just how things are, but how they got that way and how they are likely to change.

These instruments will usher in a new era of discovery - an era as momentous and exciting as the one we are celebrating today.

Australia can, must and will be part of it.

(ends)

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