Canberra [Australia], December 6: A new telescope in Australia's capital city will enable communication with astronauts from the moon to deep space.
Officially opened on Wednesday, the Australian National University's Quantum Optical Ground Station uses adaptive optical technology and lasers to send and receive data from space, allowing for communication with, and filming of, the next generation of crewed space missions.
Based at the Australian National University (ANU) Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra's west, the station will also drive research on advanced communication technologies.
"It's a world-first, in terms of next-generation capability for global communications," Anna Moore, Director of the ANU Institute for Space, told state media the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The station was built with support from the government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Australian Space Agency's Moon to Mars initiative.
Andrew Barr, the chief minister of the ACT, told the online publication Canberra Daily that the facility would give the Australian space industry a competitive advantage and help attract talent worldwide.
"Canberra has the capabilities to support space industry success and to take advantage of the enormous investment being made globally in space, through our growing knowledge economy," he said.
The station will also be able to download high-fidelity fire load estimation data for all of Australia, allowing authorities to better prepare for bushfires 20 years after the Mount Stromlo Observatory was destroyed in the 2003 Canberra bushfires before being rebuilt.