26 September 2023

New view forecast for Parkes telescope

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The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) iconic Parkes telescope is to get a new receiver that will significantly increase the amount of sky it can see at any one time.

The $3 million upgrade of the telescope – fondly known as ‘The Dish’ – is one of two recently announced projects set to deliver technology enhancements for Australia’s leading radio telescopes.

Grants from the Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) have been awarded to the Parkes telescope project and for a major upgrade to the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri in NSW.

Both telescopes are owned and operated by the CSIRO.

Once complete, the new receiver will sit high above the Parkes telescope’s dish surface and receive radio signals reflected up from the dish.

Professor Lister Staveley-Smith from The University of Western Australia said the receiver would have three times more field of view than the previous instrument, allowing quicker and more complete surveys of the sky.

“The new receiver will help astronomers to study fast radio bursts and pulsar stars, and observe hydrogen gas throughout the Universe,” Professor Staveley-Smith said.

Director of Astronomy and Space Science at CSIRO, Douglas Bock said that in addition to boosting the capabilities of the telescope, the new receiver technology had the potential to create spin-off opportunities.

“Phased arrays have found extensive use in defence radar, medical imaging and even optical laser beam steering, with emerging applications in satellite communications and telecommunications,” Dr Bock said.

“Their further development at radio wavelengths has technology applications beyond radio astronomy with the potential to fuel the growth of space-related industries here in Australia,” he said.

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