Chinese-Australian Collaboration on AST3 science in Exoplanets, Host-stars and the Solar System


At a ceremony in Beijing  on the 25th August 2012, Astronomy Australia Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding Antarctic Astronomy with the Division for Basic Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

The MoU addresses collaboration between Chinese and Australian astronomers in key areas of mutual scientific interest, using data from the Chinese-led Antarctic Schmidt Telescopes (AST3) project and support observations from Australian facilities. The key science areas identified in the MoU are:

  1. Supernova physics;

  2. The discovery and characterisation of solar system objects and exo-planets and their parent stars;

  3. Stellar structure and evolution;

  4. The physics of the dynamic extragalactic Universe.



  1. BulletThe Third Australian Exoplanetary Science Workshop will take place Dec  5-6, 2012 at Swinburne University. Both Chinese and Australian astronomers interested in exoplanet science are warmly invited to take part.

  2. BulletThere will be a Workshop in Nanjing Oct 10-11 on AST3 data and planning for future exoplanet experiments.

  3. BulletFollowing the Collaboration Meeting in Tengchong, CGT has started compiling known data on the performance of the AST3-1 system for exoplanet research.
    (May 31, 2012)

  4. Bullet2nd Collaboration Meeting on Antarctic Survey Telescopes has been announced to take place in Tengchong, Yunnan, China on May 26-29, 2013. For details see the web page.
    (May 3, 2013)

  5. BulletThe AST3 Exoplanets Working Group will hold a science workshop in Nanjing in Sep/Oct (date to be determined) to further explore the perforamnce of AST3 from the 2011 over-winter data returned earlier this year, as well as discussing plans for exploitation of data from the 2013 winter data being taken now, and the strategies for the coming 2014 winter.
    (May 15, 2013)


The MoU is an acknowledgement of the complementary world-leading expertise and resources in astronomy existing in both countries. The aim of the collaboration is to maximise the scientific output from Antarctic astronomy infrastructure investments made by both parties.

AST3 is situated at the Kunlun Station, Dome A, at the highest point of the Antarctic Plateau. Conditions on the Antarctic Plateau are ideal for astronomical observation, with extremely cold, dry and stable atmospheric conditions as well as having very dark skies for long, continuous periods through the year.

Australian astronomers have been involved in activities at Dome A through the University of New South Wales' PLATeau Observatory (PLATO-A), which will be the primary support platform for AST3, and through equipment to characterise the infrared background and cloud cover at Dome A. AAL has funded these activities through the Australian Government NCRIS and EIF grants.

Exoplanets, Host-stars and Solar System Objects

Chris Tinney (UNSW) and Zhou Jilin (Nanjing University) have been identified as co-ordinators for the "Exoplanet and Solar System" theme. We invite interested parties to join the Chinese-Australian Exoplanets and Solar System working group in developing a science plan, forming collaborations and carrying out science using AST3 data in these areas. The Australian co-ordinators for the other themes are

  1. Supernovae (SNe): Fang Yuan (ANU)

  2. Variable Stars (VStar): Charles Kuehn (USyd)

  3. Synoptic Universe (SynU): Ray Norris (CSIRO)

AST3 Exoplanet Collaboration

To stimulate this process a first draft science plan (see below) has been developed - this is a work in progress, and interested parties are strongly encouraged to submit ideas for projects, further details on observational strategies for projects already there, or statements of their expertise so that they can play a role in the exciting science that the AST3 telescopes at Kunlun Station will make possible.


    AST3 Collaboration - Exoplanets 1.4.pdf

    Appendix AST3 candidates estimation.pdf


   CGT's page on AST3 Performance for Exoplanet Research 

Current Working Group Members

  1. Chris Tinney (UNSW) - Australia co-ordinator

  2. Zhou Jilin (Nanjing University) - China co-ordinator

  3. Michael Ashley (UNSW)

  4. Daniel Bayliss (ANU)

  5. Joao Bento (Macquarie)

  6. Michael Burton (UNSW)

  7. Brad Carter (USQ)

  8. Jonti Horner (UNSW)

  9. Haibin Zhao (PMO)

  10. Hui Zhang (NJU)

  11. Huigen Liu (NJU)

  12. Michael Ireland (Macquarie)

  13. Jiwei Xie (NJU)

  14. Sarah Maddison (Swinburne)

  15. Benjamin Warrington (Macquarie)
    Rob Wittenmyer (UNSW)

  16. Liyoing Zhou(NJU)

  17. Patrick Tisserand (ANU)

Last Update: 7 November 2012


Brian Schmidt (AAL Board of Directors) and Minghua Liu (Director for Basic Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences) sign the MoU, Beijing, 25 August 2012. (Photo Credit: Michael Burton)