The Desert Fireball Network (DFN) is a major project that will intensively and repeatedly image the night sky over roughly one-third of Australia. The immediate research goal involves making networked observations of fireballs, triangulating their trajectories, and determining orbit and fall positions for the meteorites. We will then go out and recover the rocks.
By providing context information for meteorites we can address some of the biggest questions in planetary science: how our planetary system came into being and how dust and gas produced a planet capable of supporting life. But in addition to planetary applications the DFN can also be a new and unique resource for astronomers. This PhD project will focus on the development of a data pipeline that will open up the DFN as a facility for astronomical research, and then an exploration of those new research possibilities.
In building the software that will identify non-local astronomical anomalies (supernovae, optical transients, exoplanets) the student will: have access to all of the DFN output; the ability to test computational approaches on a lab-based system and upload new iterations of software remotely to deployed observatories; and a full 1-year dataset from the entire network (~500TB). The student will also have the opportunity to cross-correlate results with data from the first Square Kilometre Array precursor telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA is operated by Curtin University, giving a unique cross-disciplinary research opportunity to the student.
The student will be based at Curtin University, a modern and vibrant university campus in Perth, Western Australia, and will work within a very well resourced team comprised of over 60 staff, postdocs and students.