Miscellaneous Related Stuff

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12 Metre Development Dish

A 12 metre dish on metal pedestal This is the new 12 metre dish to be used in the Australian SKA Pathfinder Radio Telescope project. South Africa and Australia are competing to build the SKA (square kilometre array) telescope - a square one kilometre on a side containing many smaller dishes. Australia's site is in a rather remote section of Western Australia, and as proof of concept, an array of 36 telescopes is being built there. The data rate and processing required for this is "astronomical" - no pun intended. Each antenna generates data at 2Tbits/s!

Sun behind white metal dish antenna with black spots Close up of white metal dish showing black spots

The above two images show the working side of the dish. The right hand one is a small section near the left hand "leg". The black marks are positioning patterns (each about 60mm square) used to determine the shape of the dish using a specially modified calibrated camera. This is to allow monitoring the performance of the prototype under varying conditions. It does get quite hot in the ultimate location in Western Australia.

Pump with pipes to underground out in middle of field And because it does get very hot and very cold in the desert, the electronics in the support column need to have temperature control. Details are available on the information board from CSIRO. But basically the structure in this image is an intake air feed to the support column. From there, air is pumped through 4 buried PVC tubes used to exchange heat with the earth - hot air being cooled, and cold air being warmed by the relatively stable temperature below ground.

There is also an RFI monitoring system to track sources of interference for the telescope.

Main Dish Receiver Cabin

Close up of white pentagonal box above main telescope dish Silver metal structure looking like weird spacecraft

The left image above shows the new receiver cabin, installed in 1995. This is located at the focus of the parabola which the dish forms, and is thus where there is maximum radio signal strength. The right hand image shows the old cabin which it replaced.

Significance

Sandstone block, 1 metre high, in circular garden with plaque on top There are several of these stone columns featuring plaques concerning the telescope. This one is from NASA; the other from the Institute Of Engineers.
Metal plaque commemorating 30 years since Apollo 11 cooperation between NASA and CSIRO Plaque recognising significance of telescope engineering effort
From NASA From Institute Of Engineers

Actor in US space suit riding Segway near 12 metre telescope Ah, if only Armstrong and Aldrin could have used this in 1969! Much easier than lunar perambulation by foot. This "astronaut" was having quite a bit of fun, quietly sneaking up on visitors. As he passed, I asked if he was hot. A strong nodding of the head followed.

On The Way Out

View of telescope from 1 km away - over tree tops Looking towards the telescope from a short distance away. I have been here, but many years ago. The dim memory I have does not include all those trees around the site.

Distant blue hills over vivid green fields Looking north from the road to the Newell Highway - roughly opposite the direction of the above image. The fields are remarkably green, but that is a very recent development following some recent rain which has fallen in this part of the state.


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