Australia enters Strategic Partnership with ESO

May 9, 2017

The Australian Government has announced that it will spend $26.1 million for a 10-year Strategic Partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Composition of ESO observatories 

Image composition showing all the ESO observatories and the Headquarters. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

The 2017-18 Budget included $26.1 million in new funding to optical astronomical research and instrumentation development and a commitment for ongoing average annual funding of $12 million, indexed, to 2027-28.

“This includes entering a 10-year strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) from 2018, giving Australia's astronomers access to the facilities and tools they need to participate in advancing our understanding of the universe,” Senator Sinodinos said.

“ESO is a world class international optical astronomy consortium operating the world’s most comprehensive suite of optical telescope facilities located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the premier sites for optical astronomy globally.

“The partnership offers Australia’s astronomers long-term access to front-line astronomical facilities, with opportunities for Australian influence and technical and scientific input, to stimulate research and industry collaboration.

“Our decision to pursue this strategic partnership is enthusiastically supported by the Australian astronomy community and the broader research sector.

“We expect benefits from the partnership will be felt beyond the research community, by creating new opportunities for Australian businesses through international contracting, collaboration, and commercialisation in a range of industry sectors.”

You can read the full text of Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos' press release about the ESO Strategic Partnership here.

What is ESO membership for Australia? 

The membership is expected to be arranged through a special Strategic Partnership that allows Australia to pay for 10 years with the possibility of joining as a full member thereafter.  This is fantastic news for the astronomy community.

This provides Australian researchers and instrumentation developers with access to all ESO facilities apart from the E-ELT and ALMA.

The ESO Strategic Partnership will provide opportunities for Australian instrumentation groups and industry through ESO contract opportunities. ESO participants are provided opportunities to win work at ESO sites through competitive tenders.

ESO is keen to have Australia as a member because of: 

ESO provides research options supporting both radio and optical astronomy communities in Australia.