The ANU is setting up a new facility to dig through incredible mounds of data from space.

The Quantum Optical Ground Station, a first for Australia, will help researchers and industry better access unused data about our Universe as well as enable better monitoring of our own planet.

The project, which also includes a new telescope, is worth up to $2.4 million in total - with $520,000 from ANU InSpace, $800,000 from the ACT Government, $400,000 from CSIRO and $250,000 from German company Tesat.

“Most of the data we capture from satellites and instruments in space never finds its way back down to Earth,” says project lead, Dr Francis Bennet from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“The onboard processing in these machines means we are often left in the dark about our own planet, as well as the mysteries of the Universe.

“For example, the Keppler space telescope launched by NASA to discover Earth-sized planets was only able to transmit one per cent of the data it captured back home. That means we missed out on 99 per cent of what was found. 

“This new ground station will change all that. It will give us the ability to tap into the massive volumes of data we gather each day in space, as well as improve monitoring of our Earth's water, weather and other vital signs.”

The new station will also develop technology that could one day replace the undersea fibre optical cables global telecommunications is currently reliant on, as well as assist satellites from Asia in their space and Earth monitoring and telecommunications work. 

The ANU station will be the first in an Australian network of optical ground stations, with partners in Western Australia, South Australia, ACT and New Zealand.