Precision astrometry for spacecraft tracking

Ultra-high precision astrometry for spacecraft tracking and astrophysics

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Traditionally the tracking of interplanetary spacecraft is undertaken with large aperture antennas such as those operated by the NASA Deep Space Network. Tracking with this type of instrument has limited angular resolution and this corresponds to increasingly worse linear resolution as the distance of the spacecraft from the Earth increases.  Precision tracking of both interplanetary and orbiting spacecraft has a wide range of scientific and practical applications, from measurement of gravitational fields for distant objects to precise orbit determination for geospatial positional and science applications.  We have recently developed a new astrometric calibration method for very long baseline interferometry known as multiview.  This method is able to measure relative astrometry in a single epoch with a precision of 10-20 microarcseconds.  This project will apply this new technique for spacecraft tracking and determine the impact of the frequency dependence of the core emission from active galactic nuclei on ultra-high precision astronomy both for spacecraft tracking and broader astrophysical and geodetic applications.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Simon Ellingsen


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Simon Ellingsen, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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