Students Control "The Dish" from VSSEC

Students Control "The Dish" from VSSEC as Part of the CSIRO PULSE@Parkes Program

On Monday 6th September, students from Ballarat High School, Presentation College Windsor and the Knox School, took control of the Parkes Radio Telescope from VSSEC as part of the CSIRO  PULSE@Parkes program. After a briefing  from CSIRO ATNF Education Officer, Rob Hollow, the students took control of "The Dish"  and went searching for pulsars.

Pulsars are the post-supernova remnants of dead stars. Astronomers from the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) are using the data collected by students to track the evolution of the pulsars over many years, to test Einstein's theory of gravity and hopefully find gravitational waves.

ATNF researcher, Dr George Hobbs, worked with the students from the control room of "The Dish".  George had  two very good reasons for making sure the students  did their jobs well. Firstly, the data they were collecting will contribute to his  pulsar research, and secondly they were controlling a 300 tonne dish above his head.  The students were also joined by Stefan Oslowski from the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology and Jonathan Khoo from the ATNF.

The students had their hands full during the two hour observing session. They were not only responsible for controlling the dish and collecting data, they were also communicating with scientists around the world via Twitter.

Due to the demand on the telescope, observation slots are limited. Schools interested in applying for an observing session should complete the on-line application form. Schools who are unable to secure an observing slot can still access all the data collected and analyse it using the PULSE@Parkes On-line Module

For more information about PULSE@Parkes visit http://outreach.atnf.csiro.au/education/pulseatparkes/ or contact Robert Hollow Robert.Hollow@csiro.au