CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

During the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969, the Parkes radio telescope was used to receive the weak radio Signals Coming from the lunar module after the astronauts made the first landing on the Moon. In case the power failed during the Apollo 11 mission, the staff at Parkes practised moving the telescope using hand cranks. During the two-and-a-half hour moonwalk, members of staff were outside and ready to swing into action should the power fail at a critical moment!

CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

Neil Armstrong decided to leave the lunar module earlier than scheduled, which meant the Moon wasn't high enough above the horizon for Parkes to receive a signal. So the first eight minutes of the moonwalk came from NASA antennas at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra, and Goldstone in California.
In 1969, 25 km/hr was considered a safe wind speed for the telescope. How ever, during the moonwalk the dish was buffeted by winds up to 110 km/hr.
The movie The Dish', released in 2000, follows the staff of the Parkes Observatory and residents of Parkes during the Apollo 11 mission.

CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope  

CSIRO'S Parkes telescope is a 64m diameter parabolic dish used for radio astronomy. It is located about 20km north of the town of Parkes, NSW, and about 380km west of Sydney. It is operated by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), a business unit of CS1RO. CASS also operates the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, and the Mopra radio telescope near Coonabarabran, NSW, and is developing the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAR) Telescope in Western Australia.

The telescope was built in 1961. But only its basic structure has remained unchanged.The surface, control System, focus cabin, receivers, computers and cabling have all been upgraded - some parts many times - to keep the telescope current. The telescope is now ten thousand times more sensitive than when commissioned in 1961.
- NASA copied the telescope's design for the satellite tracking dishes of its Deep Space Network.
- The moving part of the telescope, above the concrete tower, weighs 1000 tonnes, more than two Boeing 747s.
- The telescope can be pointed with an accuracy of better than 11 arcseconds, about the width of a finger seen 150 m away.
- The telescope only receives Signals from space, never sends them.
- It can handle radio waves from 7 mm to 4m long.
Using the telescope
The telescope works day and night, and through rain and cloud. About 85% of all time each year is scheduled for observing. Less than 5% of that is lost because of high winds or equipment problems. Most of the rest of the time each year is used for maintenance and testing.
The moving part of the dish is not fixed to the top of the tower but just sits on it. Because the large surface catches the wind like a sail, the telescope must be "stowed" (pointed directly up) when the winds exceed 35 km an hour.
The telescope is used by 300 people each year. About 40% of these users are from overseas

Source: on site information board