Small player space facilities: A strategic teaming resource for space situational awareness.

4th A&NZ Workshop on Space Situational Awareness, UNSW Canberra: July 2018
Thompson L & Brumfitt A.

The Federal government in May 2018 announced funding for a much campaigned for national space agency to coordinate, stimulate and promote a national Australian space programme akin to other national and international space offices. However, national space offices are only as effective as is the strength, willingness and resourcefulness of the individual players and stakeholders it represents – it cannot offer or promote what is not there! Individual players and stakeholders are the space industry who drive it, enhance it, stimulate it, promote it, use it, who transfer technologies and applications. Whether in Australia, Europe or the USA, the space industry relies on a vast spectrum of expertise, strategic partnerships, funding sources, players and stakeholders who are often small business specialist companies, contractors, academics and operative facilities.  Collectively they are a powerful national resource. The global imperative to address Space Situational Awareness provides an excellent opportunity for Australia to be a significant player. Australia has many small facilities and companies that can bring valuable infrastructure to research, resulting technologies and realisation of product. Including exploiting the strategic advantage of our geographical location with low background noise (radio and light) and available land use at low cost.

Research Outlook: Emerald & Mt Burnett Observatories

16th ASSC, Melbourne, Sept. 2016
Murray J, Thompson L & Brumfitt A.

This paper presents opportunities for research and community astronomy with Mount Burnett Observatory (MBO) and the new Emerald Observatory situated in rural Victoria, Australia. Although there are already online observatory programs such as the iTelescope and the Faulkes Telescope South, there exists enormous scope for additional new southern hemisphere [Australian] facilities to satisfy an expanding interest in astronomy. This includes a space situational awareness and research observatory privately commissioned and funded for Emerald, Victoria. In strategic partnership with MBO, the new observatory facilitates both fully remote operation and in-situ research observations. Enclosed in a fully automated 3m ScopeDome, in a 5.5m high tower observatory, the 45cm Optical Tube Assembly Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) is a research grade telescope tool for University and community use. This telescope provides international remote access with strategic partnerships for education and research, and links with United Kingdom institutions.

Plenary: Australian Engineering in Space

12th ASSC, Melbourne,  2012
Thompson L.

Australia has had a rocky road in space engineering since the launch of WRESAT in 1967. With WRESAT Australia became the fourth nation to successfully design build and launch a functional satellite. Since then one could easily relate Australia’s work in this field followed the orbital decay of WRESAT, but this is far from the truth. Australian engineering expertise in space has through the application of space tracking played a role in the first landing on the moon in 1969 to the continuous communication and tracking of Voyager from launch in 1977 to 18 billion kilometres from our sun the very edge of our solar system this June (2012). Despite these achievements, Australian engineering in space has been diverse and sporadic. In 2008 the Australian Senate economic committee chartered a fresh direction for the nation with the Senate report1: “Lost in Space? Setting a new direction for Australia's space science and industry sector”. The report resulted in the Australian space research program grant scheme stimulus. But is it a matter of too little, too late? Is there sufficient infrastructure and expertise to allow Australian engineering to grow? The ASRP initiatives were wide sweeping from SCRAMJET research to the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research. What avenues are available to Australia that would facilitate space engineering industry business growth? This paper presents options and examples of pathways for Australian engineering expertise to earn high export returns for modest investment.


A Liquid Fueled Rocket for Nano Satellite LEO Insertion

IAC61 2010 Nanosat Plenary:
Thompson L & Blair M.

The advent of new generation miniature research spacecrafts and nanosatellite has pushed the demand for a low-cost launch system for space access. Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI) and RMIT University have undertaken a joint development of a University student designed and built Nanosatellite launch vehicle. The project “AUSROC Nano”, when complete will
facilitate Woomera based launch of a nanosatellite payload. Part of the ASRI’s AUSROC family, the requirement is to place a
payload of maximum 10 kg into the circular low earth orbit with an altitude of at least 250 km into edge of the space; while maintaining launch cost at minimum. The design project facilitates student centred project based learning and has since project start in 2008 completed the design of a liquid bipropellant pressure-fed engine including thrust chamber, injector, feed system, propellant storage, regenerative cooling system and performance sizing; attitude control system using 2-DOF gimbals, fairing and inter stage structural analysis, and stage separation mechanism utilizing pyrotechnics. CAD designs of the stages and system are finalized as baseline and are currently (2010) being integrated for prototype fabrication and testing in 2011.

Investigation into Thermal Management for Lunar Extravehicular Activities (EVA) and Related Equipment

IAC60 2009
Makhnutin A, Orchowski N and Thompson L.

With NASA planning a return to the moon, it is necessary to investigate previous experiences during Apollo era, to understand the problems that will be faced in future Moon exploration. Researchers conducted a review of environmental problems encountered in the Apollo missions program to identify areas where further investigation would improve the outcomes and performance of lunar operations. In particular one area that was found to need greater attention was the thermal management and the effects of lunar dust on the heat rejection systems. Little research during the Apollo era was carried out during Apollo era, and recent work on the subject does not describe the effects of the lunar dust on the subject of thermal management.
An experiment was designed and conducted to prove the established hypothesis that the dust is major factor in the heat management system. Lunar dust in both the experiment and on Apollo missions was found to cause a significant load on the thermal management system. These effects were greatly underestimated in the past, which resulted in early equipment failure as result of overheating and insufficient cooling. An example being the Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV) had reduced operation time due to the batteries where operating much hotter compare to what where predicted during preliminary study.
The experiment method and results were validated against Apollo mission data for lunar rover and lunar surface equipment. The experiment has shown that the lunar dust substitute gave similar results to that experienced in actual Apollo missions. A thermal profile for lunar dust accumulation was derived to assist in prediction techniques during EVA.

The International Space Olympics

IAC58 2007
Brumfitt A, Thompson L and  Martynov A.

2007 is the 15th year of the International Space Olympics, an annual competition for young people aged from 14 to 18 held in Korolev, Russia. The International Space Olympics competition attracts over two hundred and fifty youth in teams from countries including Russia, the USA, Germany, Greece, Europe, China, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom and Australia. Created by Alexander Martynov and colleagues at Energia Corp in 1992, the project was given full support from the city of Korolev and surrounding schools. The event quickly grew in size and attracted entries from around the globe. The International Space Olympics is an exciting opportunity for our youth to put their brains against the brightest, highly motivated young Scientists and Engineers of the future. At first hand the competitors experience what its like to apply to be a cosmonaut or astronaut. The International Space Olympics is an exciting opportunity for our youth to put their brains against the brightest, highly motivated young Scientists and Engineers of the future. They compete in events of mathematics, physics and computer science, space literature and a space related research project. Competition is notoriously tough in 2006 the Australian team entering the space Olympics for the first time won the coveted Cosmonauts Prize, with all of the ten member team finishing in the top 30 of 257 competitors. The competitors enjoyed an unforgettable experience, including meeting cosmonauts, visiting Energia Corporation Mission Control and the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (Star City). The purpose of the Annual International Space Olympics is to stimulate youth to develop their critical and creative thinking skills and to increase their knowledge of Space Exploration. The competition is judged by leading an international panel of twenty space scientists and cosmonauts. The winning team has their research projects published in science journals. In 2006 an International advisory committee was formed to standardize the examination question setting and marking. Success in the International Space Olympics has resulted in Australia running a national space Olympics to select its best space athletes for the 2008 ISO. The International Space Olympics is a proven vehicle of space outreach and education that can serve as an effective model for inspiring students and future generations to actively pursue space exploration. This paper looks at methods to extend the model to include both non and space faring nations with the objective to open awareness and opportunity to world youth and for the space community to fulfill its mandate.


Detection of Bushfires from Space

May 2, 2015

Baum, TThompson, L and Ghorbani, K 2015, 'The nature of fire ash particles: Microwave material properties, dynamic behavior, and temperature correlation', IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 480-492.

Ash Radar Chracterisation for Ground & Orbital Bushfire Detection

May 10, 2012

Baum, TThompson, L and Ghorbani, K 2012, 'A complex dielectric mixing law model for forest fire ash particulates', IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 832-835.

New Frontiers for Space Technology Education in Australia

Feb 22, 2011

Van der Velden C, Thompson L, and Bil C, 2011, 'New Frontiers for Space Technology Education in Australia', AIAC-11 Eleventh Australian International Aerospace Congress, Melbourne, Feb-Mar 8 2011

Space Technologies for Global Air Traffic Management

September 22, 2010

Simon, PBil, C and Thompson, L 2010, 'Evaluation of nautical minute discretisation for control of continental enroute airspace', in I Poll (ed.) Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of The Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS), Sweden, 19-24 September 2010, pp. 1-10.

Space Applications in the Early Detection and Management of Bushfires

October 4, 2010

Baum, TThompson, L and Ghorbani, K 2010, 'Integrated space applications in the early detection and management of bushfires', in Proceedings of the 61st International Astronautical Congress, Prague, Czech Republic, 27 September - 01 October, 2010, pp. 1-7.

Space Platforms & Earth Observation

September 30, 2009

Baum, T and Thompson, L 2009, 'Radar sensor conceptual design with applications in ground, air and space platforms for the early detection and management of bushfires', in Wayne Short & Iver Cains (ed.) Proceedings of the 9th Australian Space Science Conference , SYDNEY, NSW Australia, 28 - 30 September 2009, pp. 1-14.

Wide Dispersal Space Delivered Geological Survey System

October 07, 2009

Stojanov, D and Thompson, L 2009, 'Wide Dispersal Space Delivered Geological Survey System for Extra Terrestrial Applications', in Phillipe Willekens (ed.) Proceedings of the 60th International Astronautical Congress 2009, Paris, France, 12-16 October 2009, pp. 1-7.

Wind Energy for Electric Power Generation on Other Planets

October 4, 2008

Jens E, and Thompson L, 2008, In an effort to gain a better understanding of 'Wind Energy for Electric Power Generation on Mars and Other Planets', in P. Willekens (ed.) Proceedings of The 59th International Astronautical Federation, Glasgow, Scotland, 2-6 October 2008.

Sustainable Web Based Space Eduction

October 3, 2008

Brumfitt, ABerenguer, YWigbel, LWillikens, P and Thompson, L 2008, 'The need for sustainable web based space education resources and teacher support across the classroom for all teachers', in Phillipe Willikens (ed.) 59th International Astronautical Congress 2008, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 29 September - 3 October, 2008, pp. 1-8.

Inflatable Antennas & Satellites

October 12, 2007

GAIA Space Telescope Data Processing and Analysis

March 22, 2007

Cromarty, JBil, CHill, R and Thompson, L 2007, 'Data mining techniques for GAIA data processing and analysis', in M. Miletic (ed.) Proceedings of the 12th International Australian Aerospace Congress, Melbourne, Australia, 19-22 March 2007.

Data Processing Algorithms for GAIA Space Telescope

October 6, 2006

Cromarty, JBil, CHill, R and Thompson, L 2006, 'GAIA: making virtual space a reality', in P. Willekens (ed.) Proceedings of The International Astronautical Federation, Valencia, Spain, 2-6 October 2006.

Space Shuttle Flown Experiment

April 5, 2006

Thompson, L and Mathers, N 2006, '"Spiders in space": A collaboration between education and research', Science in School International Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 41-45.

Space Vehicle Design

September 16, 2005

Van der Velden, CBil, CThompson, L and Noomen, R 2005, 'The hyperion project: International university collaboration in spacecraft design education', in L. Thompson (ed.) Proceedings of the Fifth Australian Space Science Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 14-16 September 2005, pp. 485-496.

Polinating Plants in Space

July 30, 2004

Thompson, LHonan, PBil, C and Bonnea, A 2004, 'Pollinating of plants in space', in W. Short(ed.) Proceedings of Fourth Australian Space Science Conference, Sydney, Australia, 28-30 July 2004.

Space & Society: The art and science of mission patches and their origins in society


Brumfitt A, Thompson L & Raitt D. "Space & Society: The art and science of mission patches and their origins in society", Acta Astronautica 62 (2008) 715 – 720




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