Results from the Regional AUSTRAL VLBI Sessions for Southern Hemisphere Reference Frames
The AUSTRAL observing program is an initiative led by the Australian AuScope VLBI antennas in collaboration with radio telescopes in Warkworth, New Zealand, and Hartebeesthoek, South Africa. In 2014 the number of AUSTRAL sessions increased tremendously. Comparing recent results to the standard products achieved in global VLBI sessions regularly undertaken by the International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry (IVS), better accuracies in terms of baseline length repeatabilities are found for these regional AUSTRAL sessions. The network of (almost) identical small and fast telescopes as well as the technical equipment at all stations allows for new observing modes and improved operations, as such serving as a testbed for the future VLBI Global Observing System (VGOS). Special AUST-Astro sessions are used for dedicated astrometry of sparsely observed radio sources in the southern sky, as well as for detecting new radio sources for geodesy. In 2015, the AUSTRAL program will be further increased and final steps are now being undertaken for full VGOS compatibility of the three AuScope VLBI antennas. We present the latest results of the AUSTRAL sessions and give an overview of the multiple areas of research they support.
KeywordsAuScope AUSTRAL VGOS VLBI
The AuScope Initiative is funded under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), an Australian Commonwealth Government Programme. LP, JM, and SS would like to thank the Australian Research Council for Fellowships FS1000100037, FS110200045, and DE130101399. We also acknowledge the International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry (IVS) for managing and providing VLBI data. The excellent suggestions by three reviewers were highly appreciated and helped to improve the paper.
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