During this week (Monday 28th Nov – Friday 2nd Dec) a high-level delegation of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), including the General Director of ESO, Prof Xavier Barcons, has visited Australia. Several members of the Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific (SRAP) association, Nuria Lorente (Macquarie University), Dr Noelia Martínez Rey (Australian National University), Assoc. Prof Sergio León Saval (University of Sydney) and Dr Ángel R. López-Sánchez (Macquarie University) actively participated in the visit.
Assoc. Prof Sergio León Saval (University of Sydney) gave a talk about astronomical instrumentation and innovation and had the opportunity of showing the SAIL Laboratories at the University of Sydney to the ESO Delegation. Nuria Lorente (Macquarie University) presented a summary of the research data and software conducted at the Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO). Dr Noelia Martínez Rey (Australian National University) gave a talk about her work the use of the ANU optical ground station to provide ground segment support for satellites. Dr Ángel R. López-Sánchez (Macquarie University) presented a talk about his research, an application of data software developed for astronomy for biology studies, and the involvement of Spanish industries in Australia to participate in research projects in astronomy.
This visit presented an excellent opportunity to strengthen bilateral relationships and gain valuable insights into the strategic partnership between Australia and ESO, signed between 2018 and 2028, and looking forward the possibility of Australia joining ESO as a full member after that, particularly considering the new government in power.
The ESO visit allowed for a comprehensive overview of the partnership between ESO and Australia, including its achievements, ongoing collaborations, and potential future opportunities for both Australia and the astronomy community. It provided an avenue for Australian government ministers and decision-makers to be briefed on the partnership and understand its desired outcomes and outputs in light of the new government’s priorities.
The visit also served as a platform for Australian researchers and industry representatives to showcase their capabilities in astronomy and related technologies, such as software, instrumentation, test facilities, data management, and dual-use technology. In addition to strengthening ties with the government, the ESO delegation had the opportunity to connect and network with potential industry partners throughout Australia. This engagement aimed to foster collaborations between ESO and Australian industries focused on astronomy and Big Science initiatives.
By leveraging the ESO visit, both stakeholders—ESO and Australian counterparts—were provided with a broad perspective on the advancements in astronomy, the potential of Big Science-oriented industries, and the numerous opportunities that lie ahead.
Prof Xavier Barcons and the Ambassador of Spain in Australia, Her Excellency Ms Alicia Moral-Revilla, also met and discussed further collaborations in Astronomy between Australia, Europe, and Spain. The active participation of SRAP members further emphasized the commitment to fostering cooperation and exploring mutual benefits within the strategic partnership.