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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2312

(Question No. 616)


Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice, on 11 October 1985:

(1) Has Mr Ted Stapinski of the Australian National University developed a new generation single quantum photon detector; if so, what is (i) the present, and (ii) the potential frequency range of this detector.

(2) Are there any proposals for this detector or a development of it to be flown as part of the United States Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) project on the Explorer or other NASA spacecraft; if so, what are the details.

(3) Does this sensor have any application or potential application for the detection of so called `space junk' in the form of decaying satellites, third stage rocket boosters and the like which may reflect solar UV and be trackable thereby.

(4) What other applications are envisaged for (i) the photon detector, and (ii) FUSE, Lyman and similar UV instruments.


Senator Button —The Minister for Science has provided the following response to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Mr Ted Stapinski is manager of the team that developed the new photon counting detector.

(i) 10 to 180 nanometres (10-8m to 1.8 x 10-7m)

(ii) 0.1 to 800 nanometres (10-10m to 8 x 10-7m)

(2) Yes. Letters of Agreement between Australia and ESA, and between Australia and NASA have been signed which outline the collaboration between NASA, ESA and Australia on the definition and planning of the FUSE/COLUMBUS mission. Australian participation in this project may include the provision of photon counting detectors for the telescopes science instrumentation.

In August 1984, the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board of the then Department of Science and Technology funded the Australian National University (ANU) $2 million specifically for the further development of these detectors. This program will see the production of an advanced prototype which is planned to be fully tested on the proposed ANU 2.3 m Advanced Technology Telescope.

Subsequently the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce placed a $2 million contract in August 1985, with the ANU to space-qualify these detectors. With this objective in view, a request has been made to NASA to fly two `Get Away Special' payloads carrying the detector as part of a UV telescope. This experiment is code-named Endeavour and is planned to be carried into earth orbit by Space Shuttle in June 1987.

(3) No.

(4) (i) Earth resource satellites. Medical x-ray techniques such as computer assisted tomography (CAT). Chemical analysis using spectrographic techniques.

(ii) None.