Astronomers in New Zealand repurposed an old telecom dish for radio telescope duty. It turns build your own radio telescope pdf you can do the same with an old TV dish. In 2010, on the far northern part of New Zealand’s North Island, a satellite dish was unceremoniously decommissioned and scheduled for demolition.
But thanks to pluck of a few scientists, the anticipated death of the dish ended up giving radio astronomy on the island new life. Lewis Woodburn, who is in charge of maintenance for Auckland University of Technology’s radio telescope, and his colleagues smelled opportunity when they heard of the decommissioning and convinced Telcom New Zealand to transfer ownership of the dish over to their department. At 30 meters, Telcom New Zealand’s dish was substantially larger than the 12-meter dish already operated by the university. If they could successfully repurpose it, the new, larger dish would boost their capabilities in radio astronomy. What they inherited was a far cry from a state-of-the-art radio telescope.
The dish is located near a remote township in the very north of New Zealand’s North Island. Being only five kilometers from the sea, salt corrosion was significant issue, particularly given the lack of recent maintenance. So the team’s first task was to clean the dish service and replace rusty bolts and equipment. In particular, the motors that move the dish had become rusted and in any case were old and inefficient. After a series of refurbishment and upgrades, the new dish is finally a bonafide radio telescope, though it still needs a bit more work to give it the capabilities astronomers at Auckland University of Technology want.