Atmosphere, Space and High Energy Astronomy
Developing and deploying photonics technologies for sensing at distance - LIDAR (dust SOx and NOx, wind, water vapour), high energy astrophysics and gravitational wave detection (LIGO)
- Atmosphere, Space and High Energy Astronomy Overview
IPAS research in remote sensing includes the development of advanced optical systems for:
- Interferometric gravitational wave detection
- Coherent laser radar systems used to determine the structure of wind fields for monitoring pollution transport, optimum wind farm sighting and their real-time optimisation
- LIDAR systems for measuring trace gases and remote sensing of the atmosphere
- High-energy astrophysics with gamma and cosmic rays.
The team has a wealth of experience in developing the technologies that underpin remote sensing. Our members contribute to international projects such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) and the Pierre Auger Observatory.
- Gravitational Wave Detection with LIGO
Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, and our researchers are part of the LIGO team that is building a $300M instrument to detect them. We have developed a range of laser systems and optical sensors for advanced gravitational wave detection.
- Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
We are developing differential absorption LIDAR (DIAL) to remotely sense chemicals in the atmosphere including CH4, water vapour sensing and SOx. We are developing coherent laser radar (CLR) systems for a range of eye-safe LIDAR applications including:
- Monitoring dust and pollution emanating from mining and industrial sites
- Mapping wind speeds for wind farm site assessment
- Turbine prediction and turbulence detection for aerospace applications.
Our unique solid-state laser platforms in the near infrared (eye-safe band) and fibre lasers in the mid-infrared underpin these exciting technologies.
- High-energy Astrophysics – Gamma-Ray and Cosmic-Ray Astronomy
High-energy cosmic messengers such as gamma and cosmic rays enable us to study the processes in extreme objects like supernova explosions, pulsars and black holes. Detecting gamma and cosmic rays requires advanced techniques to filter the atmospheric background and apply atmospheric transmission.
Our researchers are currently working on projects including the design of gamma ray telescopes and ultra high-energy cosmic ray detectors.
- Gamma-Ray Astronomy
The High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) is an array of five gamma-ray telescopes in Namibia and is being used to reveal the nature of cosmic-ray and electron accelerators in our galaxy and beyond.
The Adelaide team focuses on gamma-ray sources in our Milky Way galaxy and how these objects can influence its evolution. The team also leads Australia’s efforts in developing the next generation gamma- ray facility known as the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) which will be 10 times more sensitive than HESS.
- Cosmic-Ray Astronomy
The Pierre Auger Observatory (PAO) in Argentina is the world’s largest cosmic-ray detector. Cosmic-rays are the charged particles continually raining down on Earth from outer space and their origin remains a mystery. PAO is being used to measure the energies, directions and elemental composition of the highest energy cosmic-rays.
The Adelaide team leads efforts in reconstructing these cosmic-ray parameters and the calibration of these data by accurately measuring the atmosphere’s properties at the PAO site.