University of Western Australia: Space researcher joins national media program

A space researcher from The University of Western Australia who is developing laser links between Earth and space is one of five early career researchers to be awarded a place in ABC’s 2021 Science Media Residency Program.

The program aims to help early-career researchers develop their media and communication skills, enabling them to share their scientific knowledge widely, through expert commentary and analysis.

Dr David Gozzard, a Forrest Fellow with the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, said he hoped the residency would help him promote important scientific research projects.

“I think it’s critical for researchers to know the best way to tell the world about interesting discoveries, exciting research and why it matters,” Dr Gozzard said.

Dr Gozzard’s research focuses on creating high-precision laser communication links with spacecraft which will support the next generation of satellite navigation, faster surveying for resources and tracking of underground water sources.

“Because lasers can carry a lot more information than radio waves, they enable much higher data rates and much more precise scientific measurements.

“However, turbulence in the atmosphere causes the laser beam to twinkle, which interferes with measurements and pushes the beam off target.

“I am working on technologies that suppress these effects, allowing ultra-high precision measurements and high-speed laser communications to be done through the turbulent atmosphere.”

High-speed laser communications are also necessary to transmit information between an ever-increasing number of Earth observation satellites, and to enable vast amounts of information to be delivered in an increasingly interconnected world.

“The technology will also enable high-precision physics experiments, which will bring longer-term benefits that are almost impossible to predict,” Dr Gozzard said.

Dr Gozzard’s research group is collaborating with researchers across Australia, the French space agency, CNES, and receives funding from the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Space Agency.

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