SPIDER 500A installed in Tanlaw Astro-chronometry Radio Observatory (TARO) in Scotland
Weather conditions in UK are generally bad for astronomy since rains are very common in all the year. But for radio astronomy, especially at 1420 MHz, the weather condition is not a problem and Radio2Space radio telescopes have been design for this task too! That’s why we just installed the SPIDER 500A in Tanlaw Astro-chronometry Radio Observatory (TARO), in the highlands near Edinburgh.
All the Radio2Space radio telescopes are designed in order to allow us to install all over the world. The SPIDER 500A comes pre-assembled in our factory and it’s shipped in special wooden cranes to be securely delivered at customer location where the installation takes place on the concrete base built for the radio telescope (based on our design given to the customer).
The first step is to install the giant pier that has to keep the entire structure perfectly stable, also in bad weather conditions. The large pier is connected to the concrete base by 8 large threaded bars and, by using appropriate bolts, the PrimaLuceLab installation team perfectly set the pier to the horizontal level.
With the help of a lift machine, the WP-400 weatherproof mount head (that weights 350 kg) has been lifted on top of the pier and aligned to the North direction in order to perform a rough alignment of the SPIDER 500A radio telescope mechanics. The radio telescope alignment can be easily refined then by synchronizing on the strongest radio sources in the sky.
Next, PrimaLuceLab installation team started assembling the 5 meter diameter rear support system. This part of the antenna is critical since it keeps the antenna parabolic dish perfectly connected to the mount head and avoid any dish deformation that would reduce the system performance.
Having prepared the rear support, the front antenna dish (that comes pre-assembled from the factory and that is composed by 12 parts) has been assembled and fixed on the antenna support. This way PrimaLuceLab installation team assembled also the feed supports with feed and LNA units that have been installed in front of the main reflector.
The entire antenna this way weights 350 kg and, in order to install on the WP-400 mount (tat a high of 3 meters above the terrain level), the use of a lifting machine was needed. The antenna has been properly fixed on the weatherproof mount in order to have an entire perfectly stable radio telescope.
After checking focus position and radio telescope movement, we installed the H142-One radio astronomy receiver in the control room that has been specifically build close to the radio telescope. All the data and power cables have been installed in the pipe that connects the radio telescope to the control room.
The radio telescope has also a wind sensor that continuously monitors the wind speed and direction and parks the radio telescope in Stow Position (with the antenna facing the Zenith) if the wind is higher than 50 km/h. Now the SPIDER 500A professional radio telescope is ready to detect radio signals coming from space, also in daytime and in bad weather conditions!