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Thursday, March 03, 2011

India's Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT] [World's largest]

"It is a place where only the best and brightest of students get a chance to work. Their work is so advanced that others can only dream about doing such work."

India's Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT], Narayangaon, Pune district

image: courtesy

Words to that effect used by our Science teacher when we were in class 6 or 8 [we got allotted the same classroom in both classes - able recollect the setting where she* talked about it but not quite the class we were in].

At least that is how I chose to remember her describing the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT] facility. She showed us some photographs of the GMRT location, one of which had a person standing next to one of the Radio Telescopes. The person, as was expected, looked like a tiny spec when compared to the massive telescope. That photograph convinced us all that the place is the "coolest" place one can work in & having such a workplace would, without doubt, be the most "awesome" thing that could happen to your life#.

Things did not quite proceed the way it had been chalked out sitting in the classroom that day as a 12-year old though. Instead of studying Pure Science, ended up studying Applied Science. Instead of synthesizing theorems, ended up applying them to solve problems [okay, who am I kidding - to clear exams, admitted] & anything smaller than crystal lattice structures became generally irrelevant to my course%.

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT] facility, located at Narayangaon, a little distance away from the Indian city of Pune, houses an array of 30 radio telescopes used for study in the field of Radio Astronomy. It is also the largest such research facility in the world, especially for the bandwidth it has been designed to look towards Space.

Construction costs of the telescopes were optimized by employing a method called Stretch Mesh Attached to Rope Trusses [SMART], instead of creating the parabolic arcs of the antennae using solid surfaces. It also helps them stay steady, & not deviate, when it encounters a heavy gust of wind - the wind simply passes through the mesh. It has been stated that resolution of pictures of Space obtained by the GMRT facility equals that of a hypothetical telescope that uses a parabolic dish 25 kilometers in diameter - impressive feat, by any standards.

Duration: ~20 minutes

India's Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT] facility

Related resources:

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT]

National Centre for Radio Astrophysics

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research


If you have got bored of watching video streams of paint drying or mold growing, then there is a webcast of something a little less [or maybe just as] interesting - watch the outside of a telescope located in a remote & desolate place, as it goes about doing nothing for better part of the day.

Himalayan Chandra Telescope, IAO, Hanle

Camera situated at the rear end of the facility - possibly a security monitoring arrangement, especially considering that that it is located very close to the India-China border. Though, in a manner it is also exciting to be able to watch some place else, far away, in real-time, even as you can go about your life elsewhere.

Photo Gallery of the facility



* incidentally, had a *MAJOR* crush on her while in school. Unfortunately she was a temp and taught us only for a few months IIRC - ages ago - a different time altogether

# a variation of this belief, I still believe in. Then again, we were, in all likelihood in class 6-8 translating to being around 12-14 years old. How else would 12-year olds describe the good things, other than calling it cool and awesome.

% broadly speaking