during the routine maintenance period this week, we got to climb high up to the focus cabin of the parkes radio dish to see what the receivers that we are using to collect data actually look like!
to get to the focus cabin, first we have to go onto the dish (if only i had a cup of tea ;)
up there is where we're climbing!
the incoming signal from a distant source bounces off the dish and gets focused up where the receivers collect the signal. radio waves are electromagnetic radiation, just like light you see with your eye, but they have longer wavelengths and carry less energy. any electromagnetic signal with a wavelength over 1 millimeter is a radio wave.
since radio waves are much weaker than optical light, the signal needs to be amplified through a whole series of electronics that i honestly don't completely understand. but i'll show you some photos anyway ;)
happily up at the focus cabin!
the cabin has two stories - it doesnt look so big from way down on the ground!
the receiver you can see the top of in the photo above looks like this:
the engineer who is giving up our tour has a last name of armstrong, and in the true aussie fashion of shortening words and giving everyone nicknames, they call him "army" :)
the multi-beam receiver we are using this week is this beast, which is kept at a cool temperature of 18 Kelvin (-255 Celsius = -427 Fahrenheit!).
of course we climbed on top of the focus cabin to enjoy the view...
and then climbed back down.