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Report - Latvia. RT32 Soviet Radio Telescope 2012

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by kingrat, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. kingrat

    kingrat 28DL Regular User
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    Somewhere between Ventspils and Kolka cape in Latvia are two radio telescopes. Originally there were 3 but now only two remain (RT-32 (main dish is 32 meters in diameter) and RT-16 (16 meters)). The smallest one, RT-10 was taken away when the soviets left Latvia in 90’s. With these antennas the Russian forces were able to eavesdrop on phone calls made to and from Latvia during the occupation. When entering the complex, the first thing you encounter is the abandoned housing units where soviet army forces and scientists used to live.

    The entire complex was so secret that even the Latvian soldiers and scientists were shocked when they saw what was nestled in the forest. Back in 1993, when Soviet forces were preparing to leave Latvia, they wanted to blow up the complex but after an inexplicable call from the Russian Academy of Sciences and international astronomers they just demolished them. Latvia’s scientists received RT-32 and RT-16 with nails hammered into wires, with acid poured on main system parts and with no plans how to start up this equipment.
    In less than 20 years Latvians managed to repair all the damage and also replace all the equipment with modern PC so that foreign scientists can come and work.(We actually met one of the guys responsible for getting this beast back up and running). This incredible feat of backwards engineering has its downside, now tourists aren’t allowed to go inside the array as often as they used to due to the fact the array is now a working piece of scientific equipment. RT-32 is one of most precise radio telescopes in the world, it can be used to listen signals from space. The most distant constellation from which signals have been received is Swan’s constellation – 500 million light years away.
    The smaller array, RT-16 is currently being renovated and this will be used by scientists from Ventspils University to monitor a satellite that they are preparing to put into space in conjunction with Bremen University and the European Space Agency. Back in soviet times all three antennas were connected with underground tunnels (and I’m not talking service tunnels). Today they are no longer required and are not in use but they still are there. Tourists are not allowed to view them.
    One thing learned very quickly about Latvia, even if you're not supposed to be there, show an interest and before you know it you're being given a 'tour'. We stood in the dish of this thing!!

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    Thanks for looking.
     
    #1 kingrat, Jul 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012

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