A 30m Telecom NZ satellite dish has been repurposed into New Zealand's largest radio telescope antenna. Telecom handed the reins of the telescope over to Auckland University of Technology (AUT) last Friday the 19th of November.
The dish, located at Warkworth, north of Auckland, has previously been used for TV, phone calls and broadband. It will now be used as a radio telescope in conjunction with AUT's 12m purpose-built antenna installed nearby last year by the Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research (IRASR).
After its conversion, the telescope will study star formation, the Milk Way's centre and the gaseous components of our galaxy.
Professor Sergei Gulyaev says the 30-metre dish will have a collecting area six times greater than its counterpart which will mean much greater sensitivity and resolution.
“This new radio telescope is very important in terms of New Zealand’s capability in the field of astronomy. Our collecting area and spectrum range will increase by almost an order of magnitude leading to greater sensitivity. It will also enable AUT to further develop its astronomical skills and techniques.”
Professor Gulyaev says other uses for the new facility include the study of galactic nuclei other than the Milky Way, quasars, mega-masers, and cosmic molecules including organic molecules that may be indicators of extraterrestrial life.