Space and Radio Science News and Opportunities—August 2022

Space and Radio Science News and Opportunities


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The National Committee provides this regular emailed newsletter containing updates from international scientific unions and committees and news related to the local scientific community, relevant funding opportunities, conferences and awards.

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News from the National Committee for Space and Radio Science

NCSRS is developing an implementation strategy for Australia in Space: a decadal plan for Australian Space Science and a white paper outlining the significance and role of radio science in Australia. A ‘town hall’ session at the Australian Space Research Conference will invite comments and discussion on future directions for Australian space science, and provide input to the implementation strategy.

Realising Australia’s untapped space science potential

The Australian Space Agency’s five-year $150 million Moon to Mars program has been instrumental in building Australian space industry capabilities and nurturing opportunities to participate in international missions. The recent launches of NASA rockets in the Northern Territory reflect the long and fruitful collaborations between Australian and United States researchers in space science and astronomy, and the appetite of our international colleagues to seize the opportunities that Australia has to offer.

Australia’s space research and industry sectors have much more to offer international partners than launchpads for their rockets.

At the announcement of the NASA launches, the head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said "This is another signal that Australia is go for launch – and will further cement our reputation as a nation that global space players want to do business with." This vision is supported by our decadal plan for Australian space science, ‘Australia in Space’, which envisages an Australian space industry that is an active participant in international missions and attracts global partners to sovereign missions, built on the back of the successes of the Agency.

Three examples serve to illustrate the scope and capability of Australian space science research which can translate to end-use applications.

The Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine is a hub for Australian space medicine and life sciences, partnered with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). AAD has been collaborating with NASA on basic research and capability development for human space flight since 1993. Capabilities necessary to sustain long duration human space missions transfer directly to Earth-based health and technology sectors.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) provides space-related expertise used, for example, to develop radiation tolerant microelectronics, evaluate properties of lunar and Martian materials, and characterise the impact of low energy particles on human cells in space.

The International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems at Western Sydney University is developing new event-based sensors suitable for space imaging applications including satellite tracking and complex in-orbit operations.

The Academy’s space science decadal plan outlines what Australia needs in order to realise its full potential in space science, enable and support domestic industry and become an international partner of choice for research and industry collaboration. The investments and development in space industry and policy over recent months set a solid foundation to build this future.

The National Committee encourages members of the space science community to engage in conversation about the recommendations. Feedback and queries on the plan may be directed to the Academy, as may requests for virtual briefings from the authors.

Recommendations from ‘​Australia in Space’ for realising Australia’s untapped space science potential:

Recommendation #2: A Lead Scientist role is established in the Australian Space Agency with responsibility for space science policy settings. The role should include responsibility for providing strategic science policy advice, facilitating cross-sector engagement and international collaboration, and fostering capacity development initiatives. 

Recommendation #3: Commitment to and investment in an ongoing national space program, enabled by space missions that advance science, stimulate technical innovation, address national priorities, grow capability and inspire citizens.

Recommendation #5: A program of small space missions to advance knowledge and discovery, foster and leverage international collaboration, accelerate development of new technologies, applications and the skilled workforce, and help grow sovereign capability. This should be the responsibility of the Australian Space Agency, with NCRIS or similar support.

Science and policy news from the Academy

The Academy brings together leading Australian experts to consider and advise the nation on scientific issues, providing authoritative information and advice on current science, technology and emerging research to inform discussion and assist evidence-based policy development and decision-making.

A national science and research strategy for Australia

Over time, ad-hoc interventions, various departmental initiatives and overlapping state and Commonwealth priorities have led to a national science and research system that is spread over 202 programs and 13 federal portfolios, with multiple ministers and departments having key responsibilities – an overly bureaucratised and inefficient system. Read the Academy’s analysis of why Australia needs a national science and research strategy.

Australia’s future depends on science. Here’s what our next government needs to do about it

In Australia, we’ve experienced several crises in the past few years: bushfires and floods turbo-charged by climate change, and an enduring pandemic. Former Academy President Professor John Shine reflected on how we’ve managed these overlapping events and what needs to be done about it.

Research integrity – Needs and provision of training in Australian institutions

The results of the first national survey to investigate research integrity in Australia, a collaboration between the Australian Academy of Science and publisher Springer Nature, indicate broad support for mandatory research integrity training.

Community news

Funding and research announcements

Upcoming conference and event dates

Impacts! Rock from space colliding with planets

2022 AIP Women in Physics Lectureship Tour

Tasmania, 9 August 2022

September dates for WA and SA to be announced

More information
Register here

14th Australian Space Forum

Hosted by the Andy Thomas Foundation

Adelaide, 25 October 2022

More information

International Symposium and Exhibition on Electromagnetic Compatibility

Gothenburg, Sweden; 5–8 September 2022

More information

International Conference on Electromagnetics in Advanced Applications

Cape Town, South Africa; 5–9 September 2022

More information

20th Australian Space Research Conference

Sydney, 26–28 September 2022​

More information

24th Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics

Adelaide, 11–16 December 2022

More information

News from national representatives

Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

Like many organisations built around in-person international travel, COSPAR had a challenging time during COVID, with a number of difficulties associated with the attempt to have an in-person and then hybrid meeting in Sydney. However, as of 17 July 2022, the organisation is back to a major in-person assembly in Athens. This time there is a new geopolitical challenge – historically COSPAR was a way for Russian scientists to communicate peacefully with the world, but the war in Ukraine has suspended much of this peaceful dialogue. There is also a recognised theme that a major global challenge the space community should work on is climate change, and that the space science community can do more about supporting diversity.

During this meeting, there will be a vote for a new president and the site for the 2026 meeting chosen from a shortlist of two European cities (Florence and Prague). We can hope for increased Australian participation in the 2024 meeting in Busan, Korea, in the middle of Australian time zones and with a shorter flight time.

Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP)

SCOSTEP held the 15th Quadrennial Solar-Terrestrial Physics (STP-15) Symposium in Alibag, India, in February 2022. The aim of the STP-15 was to bring together experts, young scientists and young research students from solar, magnetospheric, ionospheric and atmospheric physics communities. The symposium was held online, with nearly 480 registered participants.

The SCOSTEP/PRESTO online seminar series, focusing on different aspects of solar-terrestrial physics, continues with talks approximately once per month. We encourage anyone interested to sign up for notifications of upcoming seminars, while recordings of many of the previous talks are available online.


SCOSTEP Space Science Comic Books

The series currently has nine books, each aimed at educating its readers on a different topic. Topics include global warming, solar wind, cosmic rays, the ozone hole and more. 

These comic books are designed to introduce the public, particularly young people, to several topics in solar-terrestrial physics. They were originated by Professor Yohsuke Kamide at the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory at Nagoya University in Japan, in collaboration with SCOSTEP’s CAWSES program. Since then, all nine have been translated into English and French, and several are available in Czech, German, Hindi, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu.

Download them on the SCOSTEP website

URSI Commission G: Ionospheric Radio and Propagation

Vale Professor Patricia Doherty

Professor Patricia Doherty, Director of the Institute of Scientific Research at Boston College and Vice President of URSI, has passed away unexpectedly. Professor Doherty was actively involved in the Women in Radio Science initiative and was the trigger to set up several Women in Radio Science chapters in our URSI Member Committees.

Professor Doherty was a committed and engaged scientist, promoting radio science in a global sense. URSI will miss her deeply and we send our condolences to her husband and her family.

Recent and upcoming URSI conferences

  • URSI AT-AP-RASC 2022, 3rd URSI Atlantic/Asia-Pacific Radio Science Meeting
  • URSI GASS 2023 Japan: XXXVth URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium 
    • Japan, 19-26
    • Planning is underway for this conference, so keep checking the URSI website
  • URSI Asia-Pacific Radio Science Conference 2025
    • Sydney, August 2025

About URSI Commission G

The International Union of Radio Science (Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation under the International Council for Science, and is responsible for stimulating and coordinating, on an international basis, studies, research, applications, scientific exchange, and communication in the fields of radio science.

Under URSI there are several ‘commissions’ or focus groups. Commission-G deals with the study of the ionosphere in order to provide the broad understanding necessary to support space and ground-based radio systems. The Commission interacts with other commissions but particularly: C – Radio Communication Systems and Signal Processing; F – Wave Propagation and Remote Sensing; H – Waves in Plasmas; and J – Radio Astronomy.

There are several working groups under the Commission that cover finer detailed interests.

Australian Institute of Physics Solar-Terrestrial Space Physics Group

24th AIP Congress: The congress is co-locating with the Australian and New Zealand Conference on Optics and Photonics (ANZCOP), the 2022 Conference on Optoelectronic and Microelectronic Materials and Devices (COMMAD) and the 7th International Workshop on Speciality Optical Fibers (WSOF). Highlights of the event are a physics education–themed High Tea, including a keynote presentation targeting high school teachers, university physics educators, PhD students and other congress delegates organised by the AIP Physics in Education Group. The Diversity and Equity Group in Australian Physics will hold a networking session, including a keynote presentation. The Precision and Quantum Sensing Workshop will bring together researchers and industry experts to discuss precision quantum sensing applications, with focus areas including precision magnetometry and defence applications in this space.

Follow the AIP Solar Terrestrial and Space Physics Group’s Facebook page for exciting space-related updates.

International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA)

The Earth Reference Data and Models website has links to various IAGA resources, including the IAGA summer schools. 

More about the IAGA

Science corner

James Webb Space Telescope's first photo

See photos from the earliest days of a next-generation space observatory.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope separates from its Ariane 5 rocket with the bright blue Earth in the background in this view captured after its launch on 5 December 2021. Image credit: NASA TV.

Space junk found in NSW Snowy Mountains paddocks

The Australian Space Agency has confirmed debris found in the NSW Snowy Mountains belongs to SpaceX.

A piece of space junk was found in a sheep paddock in the NSW Snowy Mountains. Image credit: ABC News South East NSW.

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