The new Minerva Australis facility is located at the University of Southern Queensland’s Mount Kent Observatory. It is the only facility of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, dedicated to supporting NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) by performing follow-up observations and gathering data on potential planet discoveries.
12 telescopes are located in individual clam shell domes around the outside of the control building. The control building has been designed to suggest the presence of a spaceship that has landed atop this remote hilltop on the Darling Downs. At the request of the members of the University of Queensland’s Astrophysics team, the building’s interiors were inspired by the bridge of the original ‘Starship Enterprise’ from Star Trek.
This building contains a dual-purpose control room and teaching space for staff and visitor presentations, staff amenities, computer servers and the two laboratory clean rooms to house the spectrographs which process the optical data gathered by the telescopes.
Due to the client’s desire to use the Control Building for workshops and public events, an awning was added to the eastern end of the building to create a covered outdoor gathering space. The form of this awning was designed to suggest the presence of a spaceship wing with the tip down turned to provide protection from the sun.
Photographer: Lucy RC Photography