back to article Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is warning that two iconic Australian astronomy facilities – the Parkes radio-telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array at Narrabri, are at risk of closure after the federal government pulled $AU114 million from the agency's funding. The …

  1. Gray Ham

    "Parkes, most famous as “The Dish” that received the first images of NASA's 1969 moon landings"

    Note that the first TV pictures came from the NASA tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek, near Canberra rather than Parkes. As so often happens, the movie took many liberties with facts ... see here:

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      To expand on that

      The tracking station at Tidbinbilla (which is home to one of NASA's Deep Space Network stations, these days known as CDSCC, and also home to the old Honeysuckle Creek "dish") was also involved, the two referred to collectively in mission communications as "Honeybilla".

      Given their rural locations, both are the end of good driving roads too, although Honeysuckle is now just a big concrete pad and a campsite.

      CSIRO currently manages CDSCC on behalf of NASA, so at least the organisation isn't going to completely lose its radioastronomy expertise.

      1. vk1ac

        Re: To expand on that

        and to expand on THAT... A little talked about fact was the Apollo signals were actually supposed to be recieved by the station at Orroral Valley, which sits geographically between Honeysuckle Creek & Tidbinbilla. Unfortunately, Orroral had a generator failure (both the Honeysuckle and Orroral sites were and still are, off the power grid) and reception duties were quickly switched to HSK. We camped on the empty pad with an Amateur Radio Special Event Station VI1HSK to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Apollo landing. Let me tell you how cold it is, up in the mountains on a cold Australian winters night.. ;) As an aside: I believe one of the smaller Orroral dishes now sits atop a building at the Canberra University Campus.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Wow! That link is a freaky time warp back to the www of that era. All it needed was a blinking heading.

    3. AceRimmer1980


      My Grandad was working at Honeysuckle Creek at the time. I have a piece of the Eagle.

  2. splatman

    It's what happens when the electorate put backward looking barbarians in charge.

    1. Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen

      True, but

      What I don't understand is whether or not SQA is intended to replace the older radio telescopes.

      If so, then is the reduced funding for the redundant telescopes a big issue?

      I see the article is playing the nostalgia card pretty hard and it made me wonder whether or not the scientists + other boffins that work on such things would rather work on the older telescopes or the SQA. Anyone know? Honest question.

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: True, but

        "What I don't understand is whether or not SQA is intended to replace the older radio telescopes."

        There's also the question of instrument availability. There's already a queue a mile long of astronomers and related scientists waiting for time on the big telescopes, and this would be bottlenecked by pushing them all onto one instrument. Also, the SQA may be overkill for some projects, for which the Parkes telescope could be ideal, and shorten the queue by moving those scientists whose projects don't need the massive power of the SQA onto the Parkes dish.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: True, but

        They are shutting these and other CSIRO facilities because they are sacking the scientists who run and work in them not because they are obsolete. CSIRO peaked in the 1980's with over 8500 staff, when I started at CSIRO (3.5 years ago) there where 6500 people working there by the end of next year there will be fewer than 5000 - it's budget will be less than 50% of what Victorians spend every year at the pokies and less than 0.25% of the nations federal budget.

        CSIRO will be instructed by the minister to sell the land that the facilities are on rather than develop them into something that could generate revenue to ensure that CSIRO can never be self sufficient. We are witnessing is the gradual shutting of the largest independent research organisation in Australia setup to be impartial, ensure all those in parliament have the facts they require to build good consistent policy and to work towards improving the lives of Australians.

        I intend to work as hard as I can while the doors are open, to spend every last cent as wisely as possible and to take every opportunity that CSIRO presents me to make as positive a difference as I can for Australia because once CSIRO is gone there is no way it's coming back.

  3. Medixstiff

    Hasn't Parkes been named recently for being the first to find a signal from space that has only just been backed by another observatory?

    Personally I would rather the $114 million be taken out of future politicians golden handshakes, at least the CSIRO has done good work over the years, not like 99% of the pollies.

  4. JCitizen

    I keep reading..

    In science journals that funded programs are needing all the assets they can get, even older legasy radio telescope assets. Why doesn't the government rent them out for money? I'd wager even the Chinese would make an offer! Of course some down under may be offended by "giving it up", but I don't look at it that way at all.

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