How can astronomy be used in the fight against bushfires? How can we build smaller, lighter technology for space telescopes and satellites? What can other stars teach us about the extremes of Solar activity?
University of Southern Queensland Astronomy Professor Brad Carter will soon be delving deeper into these questions as the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship to travel to the USA.
The Centre for Astrophysics Director has long been looking to the stars to reflect on Earthly problems and, as part of his Fulbright project, will focus on three key areas.
“This Fulbright project is really about cooperative work on translating astronomy into advances in space science and technology,” Professor Carter said.
“For the first part of the project, we will be surveying stars to learn more about our Sun and the future of Solar activity extremes.
“Secondly, we will be enhancing a world-leading wildfire and bushfire detection system that began with techniques to detect exploding stars in distant galaxies.
“Following that, we will be working with advanced new technology called astrophotonics, to design smaller and lighter equipment for space telescopes.”
Professor Carter will travel to the United States next year to conduct his research at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech, the University of Louisville, the University of Colorado, and the University of California Berkeley.
“Fulbright scholarships provide an opportunity for our two countries to mutually benefit by combining research expertise,” Professor Carter said.
“It is also about the development of professional bilateral relationships and building important and durable links between the USA and Australia.
“This particular project is about collaboration that brings together complementary science and technology to provide something genuinely new and useful.”
Growing up, one of Professor Carter’s favourite memories was reading about and seeing TV footage from NASA’s Apollo space program.
“I was attracted to astronomy and space from an early age,” he said.
“For me, it was and still is about exploring a universe filled with extraordinary wonders, and mysteries yet to be solved.”
“I think many people in my generation were especially inspired by the extraordinary achievements of the United States in sending 12 people to set foot on the Moon and return them safely to Earth.”
Professor Carter also said the NASA Apollo program shows what can be achieved through major and purposeful collaboration based on science and technology.
“With humanity facing grand and shared challenges such as climate change, we can learn from NASA’s ambitious but successful Moon shot approach, this time with all nations working towards a common goal,” he said.
“It’s an honour to have been awarded a Fulbright Future Scholarship, and I want to thank all those who have helped me in my career, especially the awesome University of Southern Queensland astronomy team.”
The Fulbright program is America’s flagship foreign exchange scholarship aimed at increasing research collaboration.
The largest educational program of its kind, the scholarship was created by US Senator J William Fulbright and the US Government in 1946. The Fulbright commission has awarded over 5,000 Australian scholarships since its establishment and it operates in over 160 countries.
Read more on the Fulbright Scholarships.
University of Southern Queensland Astronomy Professor Brad Carter is the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship. (USQ Photography)