Congratulations to Associate Professor Francis Bennet of the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Associate Professor Kirk McKenzie of the ANU Research School of Physics for their successful award in the Australian Department of Industry Moon to Mars Demonstrator Feasibility grants process!
The $150 million Moon to Mars initiative program provides funding to Australian space researchers and businesses to help them develop new technologies for use in future NASA missions to the Moon and beyond.
Australian Deep Space Optical Communications Ground Station
Francis and his team will prototype and test a deep space optical communications ground instrument compatible with NASA’s Optical to Orion (O2O) mission: to demonstrate high speed optical communications between Earth and the Orion spacecraft as it orbits the Moon. The Australian National University will partner with Liquid Instruments to build and verify the optical transmitter in the lab. The interface requirements for the full transmitter and receiver system will be defined in preparation for the full system construction. Once complete, this instrument will be equipped to the university’s optical ground station, providing Southern Hemisphere ground support for NASA’s O2O mission from 2024 onwards.
Laser Technology for the next GRACE Mission
Kirk and his team are working to help develop laser measurement technology for a generation gravity sensing mission, slated for launch in the mid-2020s. It extends a successful decade-long international collaboration on the GRACE Follow-On mission to develop prototype space flight hardware for the Mass Change mission. The Australian National University and its partner CEA Technologies will work to demonstrate the feasibility to deliver a space-ready laser system to a near-term launch opportunity on a high-profile Earth science mission.