Damaged dish will soon look at the stars

The National Research Council dish that was damaged enroute to the observatory on White Lake Road is now fully repaired.

Gary Hovey, manager for the antennae project, said most of the work was completed in December, and they have waited for the weather to improve before moving to the next step.

"We are just about to re-measure it, with it facing up, and finish off the motor control system on the tower," he said. "By the end of April we will get a crane out and lift the dish on to the mount."

The $300,000 carbon fibre dish was dented while being transported from Okanagan Falls to the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory on Oct. 17, 2013.

Initially, they used the Highway Thru Hell crew to pop out the dents using air bags.

Resin and carbon fibre were then used to repair cracks.

By mid December, the dish was flipped over, pointing up, and a support structure was attached.

Now the next phase starts with better weather ahead, and by May researchers hope to test it on the sky.

The dish is a candidate antennae for the Square Kilometre Array, a project to build a radio telescope that is 100 times more sensitive than anything that exists

According to Hovey, the testing in the sky will entail looking at the stars to see how the dish performs.

"They are interested in knowing if this novel design made of carbon fibre meets the high performance goals that they require," said Hovey. "The promise of this design is it can be mass produced at a relatively low cost."

There are other competing designs in China and South Africa, he added.

The fact the dish was repaired and the project able to carry on shows the robustness of its technology, said Hovey.

"Everyone thought it was destroyed, but we were pretty sure it could be popped out," he said. "Everyone was impressed we recovered from this so quickly, even the competition."



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