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Students planning to build radio telescope

Image credit: Ryan Wick
Image credit: Ryan Wick

A team of Exeter University Students are aiming to build a five-meter radio telescope for use as an education and research tool for students across the country.

The Exeter Radio Telescope Project will be based and run primarily by students at the University of Exeter, along with a team of thirty students, for the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

The project has already been awarded a £2,500 grant from the Exeter Catalyst seed fund. The Catalyst fund is awarded to projects that help to develop a culture of public engagement with research within the University of Exeter.

Some research purposes have already been selected for the telescope. It will be used to weigh the MilkyWay and gain information about its structure and observe its star formations. Another aim is to observe radio-active galaxies from the early universe, such as quasars, and high energy pulsars, as well as monitoring the sun’s activity.

Radio telescopes are important to astronomy since they have a much wider range than optical telescopes as they use radio waves to penetrate thick dust in space that other telescopes cannot. The reason the radio telescope must be so large is because radio wavelengths are much longer than those of visible light, and must be large in order to attain the resolution of optical telescopes.

Two Exeter University PhD researchers, Damien Rumble and Freya Aldred, will run the project.

The team will attend a variety of conferences in the coming months, including the UKSEDS National Student Conference on March 1 and 2. The team will present and have a stall at the conference, which takes place at the University of Leicester.

The project is split into several teams, with different students heading up Engineering, Funding, Logistics, Outreach, Procurement and Science teams.

Chris Bateman, News Team

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