EPFL RADIO waves
In order to build the largest radio telescope of Switzerland, one has to start by learning the basics. For this purpose, 12 bachelor and master interdisciplinary projects are in progress : their goal is to design, conceive and build a small radio telescope which will be able to gather data from outer space. These projects are distributed into five different poles, amongst which three are currently active (Structure, Motorisation and Control and Antenna).
Point & TRACK
Point to a desired location on the celestial sphere and track its movement
Detect the hydrogen 21-centimetre line
Mesure the hydrogen velocity distribution in our galaxy and estimate the quantity of dark matter within it.
4 physics students are currently working to give our telescope a parabolic antenna. This element is used to « collect » incoming radio waves by forcing them to bounce up to a single point, called the focus, where a detector is positioned. The antenna size is strongly related to the studied wave’s frequency : the lower the frequency, the bigger the antenna. Hence the conception of this element requires the resolution of many applied physical problems.
The goal of the structure is of course to support the dish. But its functions don’t stop there : amongst other things, it requires meticulous interface management. Hence, conceiving the structure requires a careful understanding of the physical constraints, such as the antenna’s weight, the wind and thermal effects, the durability…Finally, it needs to support wheel-and-track configuration, allowing one to orientate the telescope in azimuth (direction) and elevation.
motorisation and control
The motor is a fundamental part of the SRT as it enables one to follow the objects of interest. The team in charge of this pole aims at using a step motor designed with the goal of tracking satellites and stars. The challenges hence lie in meeting the precision and resolution criteria previously set to respond to our objectives.
The antenna team
They made it !
After working for one semester onto building the antenna, the team achieved amazing results ! In fact, they have been able to measure a signal at 1.42 GHz corresponding to the hydrogen 21cm line in our galaxy. More information about their work at the following link :