Sardinia Radio Telescope
The Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) is 64-metre fully steerable radio telescope completed in 2011, located near San Basilio, province of Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy. It is a collaboration between the Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna, the Cagliari Observatory (Cagliari) and the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory (Florence).
|Part of||Cagliari Observatory|
|Location(s)||San Basilio, Italy|
|Altitude||600 m (2,000 ft)|
|First light||8 August 2012|
|Telescope style||radio telescope|
|Diameter||64 m (210 ft 0 in)|
|Secondary diameter||7.9 m (25 ft 11 in)|
|Mass||3,300 t (3,300,000 kg)|
The telescope is located in Sardinia, 35 kilometres (22 mi) North of Cagliari, and is the largest of a set of three telescopes operated by INAF, along with telescopes at the Medicina Radio Observatory and the Noto Radio Observatory. It operates as a stand-alone instrument and as part of global networks of telescopes. The telescope and its structure weighs around 3,300 tonnes (3,300,000 kg).
The primary mirror is 64 metres (210 ft) in diameter. It has an active surface consisting of 1008 aluminium panels in 14 rows. Each panel has an area between 2.4 and 5.3 square metres. There are 1116 actuators mounted on the backing structure, which move the surface panels correct for the distortion of the mirror with elevation. A quadrupod supports a 7.9 metres (26 ft) diameter subreflector, with 49 panels in 3 rows, as well as primary focus instrumentation.
The telescope is fully steerable. The telescope sits on a reinforced concrete base, carved into bedrock, with a continuously-welded track sitting on a 40 metres (130 ft) diameter outer ring, connected to the foundations with 260 pairs of anchor bolts, and supporting 16 wheels. In the centre is the azimuth bearing support, as well as the cable wrap and encoder system. The welded steel alidade then supports the elevation wheel, which is in turn connected to the primary mirror backing structure. A room at the base of the alidade holds the motor power supplies, antenna control system, and cryogenic compressors. Three rooms just below the primary surface contain the secondary focus receivers, as well as smaller mirrors and electronics.
The telescope will ultimately have 0.3–115 GHz (1 metre to 3mm) continuous frequency coverage. Initially three receivers were installed: an L band receiver in prime focus, a C-band receiver in the tertiary focus, and a 7-beam K-band receiver in the secondary focus.
Collaboration, construction and commissioningEdit
The telescope is a collaboration between the research units of the National Institute for Astrophysics: the Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna, the Cagliari Observatory (Cagliari) and the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory. The construction was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, the Sardinia Regional Government, the Italian Space Agency and INAF. The telescope cost around €70 million to construct.
The contract to fabricate the telescope structure and mechanics started in 2003, and the construction of the foundations was completed in 2004. The initial schedule was for inauguration in late 2006; construction ultimately was completed in mid-2012.
The telescope was constructed by MT Mechatronics GmbH of Germany. The first light was on 8 August 2012, using the Moon and 3C218. The technical commissioning phase ended in 2013, and formal inauguration was on 30 September 2013, with scientific commissioning between 2012 and 2015. Its first VLBI connection was in January 2014.
The telescope can operate in single dish mode, measuring continuum, polarisation and spectra. It is also used for very-long-baseline interferometry as part of the European VLBI Network, and with the space-based RadioAstron antenna. It is also used for space science, including deep space communication by the Italian Space Agency.
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