Western Australia, Day 3 – Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory

31 May 2016

Following our visit to the ASKAP array the previous day, a nice meal, a couple of beers and a good night’s sleep at the Boolardy Station. This morning, we’d be visiting the other telescope array at the MRO – the Murchison Widefield Array.

MRO-Day2_001
Getting ready to leave Boolardy Station to visit the MWA.

The MWA is a low frequency telescope array, operating between 80 and 300 MHz, and is not made of traditional telescope dishes but of radio antennae. These antennae can come in a variety of designs. At the MWA they have an uncanny resemblance to crabs or spiders crawling across the landscape.

For the SKA, the antenna design will  be somewhat different, more reminiscent of a Christmas tree than an extraterrestrial crustacean. Here, Peter is taking a picture of a single SKA antenna. MRO-Day2_004

When all deployed across 65 km of the MRO, they will number some 113,000!

Try not to take all instructions too literally.

The Murchison Radio Observatory site needs a lot of power to keep it operating. And power will be a significant issue for the SKA as well when it joins the other telescopes on the site. In an effort to help address this issue, a solar power station is being constructed on the MRO land.

On the road again and the long drive back to Geraldton following the route that the astronomical data takes from the observatory along optical fibres underground.

Alistair demonstrates that back in January 2006, he would have been washed away!

A final pit stop for an ice-cream in Mullewa.

We got back to Geraldton in plenty time to catch our plane back to Perth. The end of a wonderful trip to the MRO!

MRO-Day2_019
The Perth skyline at night from across the Swan River.
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