Site monitoring at Mount Stromlo

The performance of large ground based optical telescopes greatly suffers from the turbulent atmosphere.  However, the problems can be mitigated by using techniques such as adaptive optics. To optimally build and operate adaptive optics systems, we need to understand the typical atmospheric conditions on the site where the telescope is built. Therefore, the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) is conducting a site characterisation campaign at Mount Stromlo.


The aim of the project is to produce statistics of how atmosphere behaves above Mount Stromlo, Canberra, Australia. We are interested in the strength of the turbulence, as well its evolution speed and altitude profile. This will help to design the systems that compensate the impacts of the turbulence.


We have designed a unique modification of an instrument typically used to characterise atmospheric turbulence: SCintillation Detection And Ranging (SCIDAR), which measures light from suitable sets of two stars. The instrument will be installed on EOS 1.8 m telescope and operated intermittently during the campaign.


After the instrument has been commissioned, we will collect a sufficient amount of measurements in different weather conditions. This tells us how well Mount Stromlo suits for the adaptive optics assisted space debris tracking and pushing activities, currently performed using the 1.8 m telescope of EOS.

Relevant publications

  • Grosse, D. et al. 'Adaptive Optics for Satellite Imaging and Earth Based Space Debris Manoeuvres.' in 7th European Conference on Space Debris, 2017, published by ESA Space Debris Office.
  • Grosse, D. et al. 'Space Debris Manoeuvre with Adaptive Optics Using a Ground-based Telescope.' Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC. International Astronautical Federation, IAF, 2017.
  • Zovaro, A. et al. 'Harnessing Adaptive Optics for Space Debris Collision Mitigation.' Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference. 2016.


We have partnered up with the Co-operative Research Centre for Space Environment (SERC) to deliver this project.  SERC is a collaboration between government agencies, universities and space industry professionals from Australia, USA and Japan. Other partners of the centre are Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Electro-Optic Systems (EOS), Optus, the National Institute of Information and Communications (NICT) in Japan and Lockheed Martin in the US.