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Observatory dish served up

The National Research Council's dish that was damaged during transportation last year, was mounted on a tower at the observatory on White Lake Road on Wednesday.

The $300,000 carbon fibre dish was lifted using a crane and plenty of manpower, as an enthusiastic crowd looked on.

"This is a perfect day," said Gary Hovey, project manager for the SKA dish verification project. "We are excited we were able to repair the dish, within three days it popped back."

Wednesday's effort entailed a crane with a harness that had specific links hooking on to six connecting points on the 8.7 tonne dish.

It was then lifted on to the tower. The next step will be to measure it and see how it performs regarding wind, gravity and temperature.

The dish was dented while being transported via helicopter 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, and by mid-December the dish was flipped over, pointing up, and a support structure was attached.

It was finally ready this month, to be placed on the tower.

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 currently exists.

Peter Dewdney, the deputy architect for SKA, said he was happy everything was now falling into place.

"I am very pleased they have recovered so nicely from the glitch," he said. "The dish is a prototype for the SKA, and no one has ever designed a dish like this before. If it works, more could be built."

The dish will stay at the observatory for some time. There are no plans to move it, he added.



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