It was a cold start to the day (10°C), which was in stark contrast to the red hot pace of work we set from the very beginning and maintained with fervour until sunset. By mid morning the core of the telescope was complete, shifting our focus to the arms of the array emanating out from the core. By days end four weary souls had laid 30 tiles, nearly two tonnes of steel, on the ground. So far on this trip 69 out of 128 tiles have been placed, putting us well ahead of schedule at this point.
When complete the MWA will have 50 antenna tiles within 100 metres of the core, 62 between 100 and 750 metres and 16 outliers at 1,500 metres. This image shows the spider’s web like arrangement of the telescope with the core at the centre and the array arms extending outwards.
For the outliers at the end of the arms we move towards the edges of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, working amongst an ancient and awe inspiring landscape. This image is one of my favourites captured so far, it shows us placing one of the tiles at the end of one of an arm approaching the main “break-away”, an impressive monolithic structure, rising defiantly in opposition to the natural processes that have shaped this landscape over billions of years.
The design of the MWA is driven by three key science goals, which are:
- To detect atomic hydrogen in the early Universe (around 13 billion years ago). Hydrogen is the simplest of elements and the building blocks of stars, galaxies and the more complex elements that we ourselves are made of.
- To observe the entire southern sky at radio wavelengths with unprecedented sensitivity; and
- To make measurements of the Sun that will grow our knowledge of the processes that drive solar weather, something which affects life on Earth and the technology we place in orbit around the planet.
To find out more about the Murchison Widefield Array head to: