New technology will see Australia aid future missions to Mars. 

ANU's Quantum Optical Ground Station, at Mt Stromlo Observatory, has been officially launched. 

The facility will facilitate NASA and other global space agencies in their Mars missions. 

The cutting-edge telescope supports high-speed communication with satellites in low-Earth orbit, the Moon, and deep space, employing advanced optical technology. 

As part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative, the station is upgraded for communication with future NASA-crewed missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

Associate Professor Francis Bennet from ANU said the ground station was the “preeminent technology of its kind in Australia”.

“Using lasers, the ground station will allow us to communicate with satellites and crews hurtling through space, supporting major crewed space missions and future space exploration,” Associate Professor Bennet said.

“We have built systems that are cutting edge in their capability, and upgrading them to be compatible with NASA missions that will help permanent operations on the Moon, and improve astronauts’ ability to connect back with Earth and allow high-definition video from the Moon and Mars.

“This includes compatibility with NASA’s crewed lunar mission Artemis II.” 

Funded by the ACT Government’s Priority Investment Program, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the ground station has strategic importance for Australia and the Indo-Pacific region. 

Professor Anna Moore, Director of the ANU Institute for Space, says the station has a role in shaping the future of space technology.
“It’s really exciting to see this new technology that will play a pivotal role in major future space missions come online,” Professor Moore said.

“With this technology, we will also be able to better access unused data and information about the Universe.”

The ANU Quantum Optical Ground Station is supported by funding from the ACT Government, with additional support from the Australian Space Agency, CSIRO and TESAT.