Jobs and Innovation Minister Senator Michaelia Cash said the launch marked a major upgrade to the telescope that brings Commonwealth investment in the project to $14.5 million.
She said the telescope has already collected huge volumes of astronomical data to inform scientific research since it began operations in 2013.
And according to Cash, the MWA’s upgrade capitalises on Western Australia’s pre-eminent competitive advantage in radioastronomy.
Cash said the MWA was a crucial precursor to the Square Kilometre Array, a next-generation radio telescope that would be hosted jointly by Australia and South Africa.
“The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed and will be used by scientists from around the world to make major discoveries about the universe. Lessons learned in building and operating the MWA are vital to delivering the SKA,” she said.
“These projects are also driving the development of new technologies, particularly in the field of big data management. This work is helping to expand Australian businesses and create jobs, in Western Australia and across the country.”
Monday’s launch of the MWA was held at Curtin University, which operates the facility on behalf of an international collaboration of 21 universities and research institutes from seven countries.
“I am delighted that the Phase Two upgrade has brought with it an expansion of the international partnership for the telescope from 14 to 21 institutions,” said Cash.
“With vast radio quiet areas and a thriving astronomy community, Australia is the ideal host for international projects such as the MWA and SKA.”
The MWA is located at the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory, about 350 kilometres north-east of Geraldton in Western Australia and will also be the site of the SKA.
As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government has committed $294 million over 10 years to host the SKA, which Cash says will deliver significant economic, scientific and technological benefits.