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Parkes will not operate "unmanned"

At a Senate Estimates hearing yesterday (2 June), CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said that CSIRO “had signalled our intent to move towards remote operation of Parkes to reduce the operating costs there”. This activity has in fact been in train since 2013 when the first remote operations — scientists controlling the Parkes telescope from another location — were introduced.

Of the scientists utilising Parkes around 80 per cent now control the telescope from a CSIRO Science Operations Centre in Sydney or other remote locations, an approach that is also used at the other CSIRO telescope sites. This approach improves the cost efficiency of doing science and is becoming normal practice for telescopes around the world.

The 2014 budget has reduced the funds available for Radio Astronomy and CSIRO is actively considering how to meet the new budget envelope. The first priority is to remain committed to delivering on its key role in the international project to create the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, and to its own Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope, which it is currently bringing into operation in Western Australia. Thus the impact will be felt across the remaining sites at Coonabarabran, Narrabri and Parkes although whilst these remain operational there will still be staff on site to maintain the facilities and carry out aspects of operations that can’t be done remotely.

— Dr Sarah Pearce, Deputy Chief, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science

Added by Helen Sim on 2014-06-03

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