Our 'grand lady', the Parkes CSIRO Radio Telescope, Murriyang has had a health check at 62 years of age and is still going very well.
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In May engineers conducted inspections on the radio telescope foundations and infrastructure.
Some of the engineers involved were assistant engineer GHD Tim Mili, CSIRO senior team leader Ron Beresford, CSIRO principal engineer Steve Barker, CSIRO senior mechanical engineer Tim Wilson, and former Parkes man GHD Engineering senior engineer Timothy Wilson.
Cr Glenn Wilson was also able to be present for some of the health checks on what he likes to call "our grand lady of Parkes".
Timothy Wilson from the GHD team inspected the concrete tower and concrete foundations, as well as the steel track path the whole Dish rotates on, the superstructure and steel frame of the 64-metre diameter dish.
The Dish has 3216 square metres of surface, and all up there is 1000 tonnes sitting on the rotational steel track, which sits on top of the concrete tower. That tower is locked into massive concrete foundations that ensure the whole structure does not move or "tip over".
Another engineering team checked the steel teeth on the elevation drive mechanism used for tilting the massive Dish up and down, the dish weighs 300 tonne on its own.
The Dish stands 55 metres high and 800-volt electric motors through geared down mechanisms of 40,000 to 1, move the Dish to extreme accuracy of better than 11 arc seconds.
Timothy Wilson is based at Wollongong and said he was pleased to come back home to do engineering inspections on the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope. Timothy has also been engaged previously to inspect several other important government assets.
Cr Wilson said he and his family are very proud of his younger brother and his achievements and project experience in the structural engineering sphere, after graduating with honours from university.
"The residents of Parkes have tremendous respect, admiration and pride for what we call 'our Parkes Radio Dish'," Cr Wilson said.
"We have a unique privilege in having this CSIRO Radio Telescope at Parkes. We have here at this location in Parkes, the geological stability and the normally very low wind conditions, and the remoteness for low interference for collecting the radio waves."
At the time former Mayor of Parkes Cec Moon played a big role by enthusiastically encouraging the radio telescope to come to Parkes. Also land owner James Helm, who was born on Federation Day in 1901, was very sympathetic and a valuable project supporter who happily sold the required land to the CSIRO.
Read all about the Dish's 60th anniversary in 2021:
Cr Wilson said the Parkes Radio Telescope was designed by the same engineers who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The respected German firm M.A.N built the steel work and erected the Parkes Radio Telescope, and the original controls were built by Askania-Werke, a German company specialising in precision equipment.
When the Parkes Radio Telescope was officially opened on October 31, 1961, it was the first to have alt-azimuth mounting, and the first to have many other advanced engineering designs, which set the benchmark for all other dishes.
It was the most advanced and the most sensitive radio dish in the world, and became the model for NASA's large tracking antennas.
Today the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope is 10,000 times more sensitive than when it started operating in 1961.
"CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope has discovered more than half the known 2000 pulsars, it also discovered the first pulsar," Cr Wilson said.
"It has also found over 2500 new galaxies in our region."
In 2016 the Parkes Radio Telescope started a 10 year project looking for extraterrestrial life.
It's used by NASA to track and receive signals from its spacecraft.
The telescope operates 24 hours a day, weather permitting, and only stops for regular maintenance and is utilised by different organisations from all around the world.
CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, since commencing operation, has always been and remains a world leader in its field.
On July 21, 1969, 54 years ago, one sixth of the entire planet's population at that time watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon. From the signal being received at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, from the Apollo 11 Eagle moon landing craft, and then relayed around the globe.
"It remains the biggest population of the planet watching the same event, watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, for some two and half hours," Cr Wilson said proudly.
He said he and his father Colin "Shorty" Wilson, in the 1980s, were lucky to have a private tour and inspection of the Parkes Radio Telescope, from the bottom control area, through the workings and out up on top of the dish walking over the Dish itself.
"The limestone aggregate used in the concrete to build the Parkes Radio Telescope also came from our family quarry site at Goonumbla," Cr Wilson said.
"I hope our grand lady will continue to operate for generations to come, and to continue making discoveries to better inform the world as to what is out there in space."
CSIRO is Australia's national science agency who own and manage the Parkes Radio Telescope.
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