Melissa Price, Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for Science and Technology, paid a visit to  the Greenhill Observatory in Tasmania where she was hosted by HENSOLDT Australia and the University of Tasmania. The University of Tasmania (UTas) operates the largest radio telescope antenna network distributed across Australia. The Greenhill Observatory is located on Bisdee Tier, Spring Hill in Tasmania. It is one of five locations, with others in Western Australia at Yarradagee, South Australia in Ceduna and the Northern Territory in Katherine. The fifth location is in Tasmania which houses one of Australia’s largest radio telescopes spanning 26 metres.

Space has become an increasingly congested environment, in which the risk of collision between satellites and space debris is continuously increasing. Tasmania is in a unique geographical position for Space Domain Awareness (SDA) in the Southern Hemisphere, given its closeness to the Southern polar orbits. From Tasmania it is possible to sight objects in space more often and longer, significantly contributing to the sovereign Australian capabilities for SDA.

In July 2021, HENSOLDT Australia and the University of Tasmania launched the Southern Guardian Situational Awareness System supported by the Tasmanian State Government. This Sovereign Australian SDA system became operational last year at Spacefest and has already achieved improved accuracy of information for tracked satellites because of Southern Guardian’s sovereign network of sensors covering LEO to Lunar+. The improved precision in satellite tracking data is critical for any effective Space Traffic Management.

The founding partners of the Southern Guardian SDA capability bring a unique advantage: HENSOLDT Australia has distinctive skills in space radar technology, system and software development as well as data analytics and cyber security. UTas has the experience and infrastructure in space observation and tracking, launch support as well as supporting communication with Australian satellite missions in all orbits and domains.

Price was given the tour of the radio telescope antennae at Greenhill Observatory, an outline of the continental network of sensors and its important role to the broader Sovereign Australian Space capabilities. She inspected the construction of the new antenna funded by the Australian Space Agency’s Space Infrastructure Fund and also received insights into HENSOLDT’s data analytical software and C4ISR capabilities visualising and analysing the data feeds received form UTas sensor network.

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