Astronomy and dark matter research to receive fresh funding from government

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Scientists look at a computer screen at the control centre of the CERN in Geneva September 10, 2008. Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) started up a huge particle-smashing machine on Wednesday, aiming to re-enact the conditions of the "Big Bang" that created the universe. Reuters/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

The Australian government has announced $37.9 million in fresh funding for scientific research in 54 projects across different fields. 

Some of the new projects that will receive a shot in the arm thanks to the funding include one to improve the recovery and discovery of ore deposits; an advanced forensics and DNA identification facility; and an expanded capacity to observe the universe.

Simon Birmingham, minister for education and training, announced the funds as part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Major Grants Announcement in Adelaide. With the financial backing of the government, researchers will be provided with the tools and equipment required for research, under the ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant. This round of funding will support more than four new projects in the field of astronomy and astrophysics.

A detector system for the first Australian experiment on dark matter, proposed by the University of Melbourne, will receive $195,000.

“This project involves the installation of equipment for an experiment to detect our galaxy's dark matter via nuclear recoil,” said the ARC project funding Web site. Another project proposed by the University of Western Australia, which aims to build the positioner at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, will receive $430,000.

Curtin University of Technology will receive $1 million for a project that aims to build the next phase of the Murchinson Widefield Array in Western Australia.

Birmingham said that collaboration was an important feature of the LIEF grant. 

“This scheme fosters collaboration through its support of the cooperative use of international or national research facilities,” he said. “A total of 54 new LIEF research projects will commence next year with a total of 72 collaborating organisations and industry partners from across the globe.”

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