Equipment Built At "The Dish" Goes To China

15 May 2002

On Monday 20 May staff at CSIRO's Parkes Observatory ­ home of "the Dish" ­ will pack a special delivery for the Urumqi Astronomical Observatory in far western China.

It's a new 'receiver' for the 25-m diameter Urumqi radio telescope. A kind of cosmic hearing aid, it amplifies weak radio signals from space to the point where they can be analysed.

Urumqi engineers Mr Sun Zheng-Wen and Mr Wang Wei Xia have been at Parkes since June 2001 to help build the receiver.

"The new receiver will be used for studying pulsars ­ small, spinning stars that emit beams of radio waves," says CSIRO astronomer Dr Richard Manchester, who has spent several years building links between Australian and Chinese observatories.

The receiver is a sophisticated system, cooled to -253 degrees Celsius to improve its performance. It replaces a simpler, room-temperature instrument.

Urumqi commissioned the new receiver from CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility (which runs the Parkes Observatory) in late 2000.

In June Mr Martin McColl, a senior engineer at the Parkes observatory, will travel to Urumqi to help install the receiver and get it working on the telescope. Dr Manchester also will visit Urumqi in late July, to help set up the observing system.

The engineers' visit was organised under an agreement between CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility and the Urumqi Astronomical Observatory.

Astronomers can 'link' the Urumqi telescope with telescopes in Australia, to observe the same cosmic objects at the same time.

Urumqi 25m radio telescope

The Urumqi 25m Radio Telescope


All at CSIRO's Parkes Observatory, tel: 02-6861-1700:

  • Mr Sun Zheng-Wen, Urumqi Astronomical Observatory
  • Mr Wang Wei Xia, Urumqi Astronomical Observatory
  • Dr Richard Manchester, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (at Parkes 15-16 May; thereafter in Sydney, tel 02-9372-4313 B.H.)
  • Mr Martin McColl, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
  • Mr John Sarkissian, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility