Since March 2002, the Lovell Telescope has been looking up to the zenith as work continues to replace the panels making up the surface with new ones cut from galvanised steel. The photographs below will give some idea of the progress of the work and of some of the procedures involved.
By the end of August the new panels had been fitted, with the topping out ceremony fitting the final one. The next task is then that of painting the new surface.
The teams of SHAL engineers were fixing the three final galvanised steel plates necessary to complete the three central tiers. Compare this view with that taken on June 28th immediately below. The previous week the last of the original panels had been removed. Work was commencing to complete the final 20 segments of tiers 4,5,6 and 7. In addition, preparations were being made for the cleaning of the surface prior to painting. This will be carried out using high pressure water jets.
Two teams of engineers were still removing the final old panels using three working platforms called "BEVs" (for Bowl Excursion Vehicles). One of the original panels, now stained with rust released when others were removed, is just below the BEV on which the photographer was standing.
This third image taken in June shows the segment that had been fully completed by the end of 2001 and may be compared with that taken in October 2001 shown below.
Back in action December 2001
With new drive and control systems installed the Lovell telescope was able to be used to make observations over the winter before the final stage of resurfacing began in Spring 2002.
Work was now almost complete on the 2001 resurfacing of the Lovell bowl. The view shows that 24 of the 64 upper sectors will have been replaced in one contiguous segment - over a third. In addition every alternate panel of the remainder of the surface has also been replaced so that, in total, two thirds of the surface upgrade will have been completed by the end of October. The painted section was completed in 1999 as a trial of the replacement process. The paint has been stained with flakes of rust that had been released when removing the nearby panels, and work was in progress to remove the stains with pressure washing.
SHAL engineers working on replacing one of the panels in the last segment to be replaced in 2001. Mastic is being smoothed on the support structure as the panel is placed into position prior to being screwed in place.
Scaffolding is mounted on the tower as work to strengthen it is in progress. This will allow us to place heavier equipment in the focus box such a 7 beam "methanol" receiver. This will operate at frequencies higher than that currently possible with the Lovell Telescope but made possible by the upgrade.
A major part of the upgrade is the installation of a completely new drive and control system for the Lovell Telescope. All 10 of the drive motors are being replaced and will be under individual control from a sophisticated new drive system. This will greatly improve the "tracking" of the telescope. This is required as the beamwidth of the telescope when operating at the higher frequencies made possible by the surface upgrade will be smaller.