The 2003 Canberra bushfires devastated the Mt Stromlo Observatory. With almost all working telescopes and the workshops being destroyed, the optical astronomy and manufacturing capability of the site was decimated.
The ANU and its Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics needed to reassess the vision for the site to define the process of rebuilding. Whilst preserving the rich history of the Observatory, the site is being rebuilt with a commitment to supporting world-class Australian research now and in the future through the development of the next generation of instrumentation for astronomy and space science.
This includes increasing national and international collaboration, growing capability for the manufacture and testing of advanced instrumentation, supporting stronger collaboration with industry, and training our future scientists and engineers. The Precision Engineering Centre was constructed soon after the 2003 firestorm to enable ongoing manufacturing and engineering of instrumentation. The work in this building continues to meet the obligations of various research programs and collaborations of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) was established as a national facility for the assembly, integration and testing of precision instrumentation and small spacecraft. The AITC is designing and manufacturing key instruments and adaptive optic systems for some of the world's largest telescopes including the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Chile, South America. The AITC is also using adaptive optics to help track and de-orbit space debris through the Space Environment Research Centre.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the future of the Mt Stromlo Observatory is incredibly bright. New facilities and new research and engineering capacity will ensure that Mt Stromlo Observatory continues to grow as a world-class facility, representative of the highest levels of technology and innovation internationally.