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Jim Lovell
Type of contribution: oral

The southern hemisphere AUSTRAL program: A pathway to VGOS

Jim Lovell, University of Tasmania Jamie McCallum, University of Tasmania Lucia Plank, University of Tasmania Elizaveta Rastorgueva-Foi, University of Tasmania Stas Shabala, University of Tasmania David Mayer, Technical University of Vienna Johannes Bohn, Technical University of Vienna Jing Sun, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory Oleg Titov, Geoscience Australia Jonathan Quick, Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory Stuart Weston, Auckland University of Technology Cormac Reynolds, Curtin University Alexander Neidhardt, Technical University of Munich Hayley Bignall, Curtin University Sergei Gulyaev, Auckland University of Technology Tim Natusch, Auckland University of Technology

The AuScope VLBI array participated in 178 IVS sessions in 2014 and will observe in 235 sessions in 2015. Half of these are dedicated to the southern hemisphere AUSTRAL program together with antennas at Hartebeesthoek (South Africa) and Warkworth (New Zealand). AUSTRAL has three main streams: astrometry to monitor and enhance the southern hemisphere celestial reference frame; geodesy to improve the southern hemisphere terrestrial reference frame and the baseline time series; and four 15-day CONT-like sessions to densify the time series and investigate a range of observing strategies. The high observing rate is providing new insight into some of the challenges of a 24/7 VGOS observing program and is allowing us to trial new scheduling and observing strategies such as Dynamic Observing. All AUSTRAL sessions are being scheduled with VieVS, observations are carried out remotely using the eRemoteCtrl software, data are processed at the Curtin University AuScope correlator and analysis is carried out in Hobart. We will present some results from the AUSTRAL program to date and describe the steps we have taken and have planned to approach VGOS-like operations.