Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO), established in 1928, was the first scientific research institution in China to carry out satellite and space debris observation, and is the base and operation unit of the Optical Observation Network of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

PMO houses four key laboratories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences: Radio Astronomy, Space Object and Debris Observation, Dark Matter and Space Astronomy, and Planetary Sciences, as well as two research centres of the Chinese Academy of Sciences – the Centre for Space Object and Debris Observation and Research, and the Centre for Antarctic Astronomy.  Its research in astrophysics and celestial mechanics is grouped into four divisions: dark matter and space astronomy, Antarctic astronomy and radio astronomy, applied celestial mechanics and space objects and debris, and planetary sciences and deep space exploration. Each division consists of research groups, observation stations, and laboratories, supported by a number of observations stations. 


This partnership aims to strengthen the research activities of the Centre for Space Object and Debris Observation and Research, as part of a large network spanning more than 20 countries.



ASTRONOC's first pilot observatory is located on the farm Elethu in the rural Cape village of Bonnievale, on land leased from the Bonnievale Workers Empowerment Trust (BWET).  The farm is  one of SA’s first full-circle BBBEE projects in the agriculture sector.

Elethu simply means “ours”, in Xhosa. It was established in 2007 under the wing of Bonnievale Wines, and received 60 ha of fertile river-fronting land, donated by the Langeberg Municipality. While Elethu supplies fruit to Bonnievale Wines, the workers receive mentorship in aspects from management to viticulture.

Through the presence of ASTRONOC, the field of astronomy and related science and technology has opened to this rural community.  Via ASTRONOC's Learner Development Programme and other outreach initiatives, a culture of learning in the sciences and techonolgy fields will be developed.   



International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) is one of largest systems specializing in observation of space debris at high orbits and is capable of observing the whole GEO ring. 

ISON is coordinated by the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics in Moscow and collaborates with optical observatories in countries including Russia, Ukraine (Andrushivka), Georgia (Abastumani), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Spain (Teide), Switzerland (Zimmerwald), Bolivia (Tarija), USA (Mayhill) and Italy (Collepardo). These observatories are organized to detect, monitor and track objects in space.