50th anniversary of Ooty Radio Telescope celebrated

The 50th anniversary since the Ooty Radio Telescope (ORT) first observed occultation of a radio source by the moon was celebrated at the Radio Astronomy Center (RAC) here on Tuesday.

Scientists, professors and retired staff of the ORT over the last five decades attended a special event to mark the occasion.

Professor Pramesh Rao (retired) at the National Center for Radio Astrophysics, said that the ORT was set up by Professor Govind Swarup, the pioneer of radio astronomy in India.

He said the ORT was one of the first radio telescopes that were set up in the country, and the first observations of a lunar occultation event were made on February 18, 1970.

Over the years, the ORT, built at ₹ 60 lakh, had contributed to observations that had helped support the theory of the Big Bang.

“Findings and observations from the ORT have helped support the theory of the expanding universe, when there was debate between two schools of thought – with one half of the scientific community propounding the theory of the Big Bang, and another, proposing that the ‘steady-state model’ to be valid,” said Prof. Rao.

Despite being operational for 50 years, the ORT still continued to contribute to scientific observations even today, said Professor Bhal Chandra Joshi, National Center for Radio Astrophysics.

“The ORT still proves to be a valuable tool in analysing solar winds and coronal mass ejections.

These crucial observations help protect satellites and communication networks all across the world,” said Mr. Joshi.

Another area of fundamental research, which the ORT was being used for, was the observation of 11 pulsars, or neutron stars, being done in collaboration with other observatories across the world to detect low frequency gravitational waves, said Prof. Joshi.

“We feel immensely privileged to have worked in the RAC, knowing that our work contributed to the growth of radio astronomy in India, with lessons and expertise gained from the ORT eventually leading to the setting up of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune,” said A.J.Selvanayagam, engineer (retired).

Also present at the event were retired engineers, A.M. Batcha, S. Maria Louis, and V Packiaraj, administrative officer (retired).

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 12:15:54 PM |

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