[ASC-media] CSIRO: Students use "The Dish" to 'listen' to pulsars

Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au
Tue Dec 18 03:51:58 CET 2007

18 December 2007 
Ref 07/ 253

Students use "The Dish" to 'listen' to pulsars

A CSIRO project designed to give students the chance to use "The Dish"
Radio Telescope at Parkes to listen and learn about pulsars, was
launched today in Canberra by the Minister for Innovation, Industry,
Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr.

The PULSE at Parkes project allows students to directly control the
Australia Telescope National Facility's Parkes Radio Telescope via the
Internet to target pulsars - small spinning stars which transmit
periodic radio signals.

Under supervision, students will use the ATNF's 'remote observing'
capabilities to move the telescope and record data.

They then analyse the data and share the results with students from
other schools and professional astronomers.

On 4 December 10 students from Kingswood High School in Sydney - 365km
from The Dish - successfully tested the project systems' capabilities at
the ATNF's headquarters in Marsfield, Sydney.

While lightning at the telescope caused a few spurious 'spikes' in the
data - giving the students a taste of the frustrations of doing 'real
science' - they recorded good results which were used to estimate the
distance to two out of six observed pulsars.

That and future data gathered under the auspices of the project will be
archived and made freely available online to allow students to compare
their observations.

 It will also be used as additional information to aid in the ongoing
search for gravitational waves in space. 

The PULSE at Parkes project paves the way for students to use the
Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, which will be built by
CSIRO and partner institutions in Western Australia by 2012.

Image available at:

Media Assistance:

Helen Sim, Australian Telescope National Facility
02 9372 4251; 0419 635 905; Helen.sim at csiro.au

Visit the PULSE at Parkes website at:


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Beck Eveleigh
Media Assistant
CSIRO Media Liaison
6276 6451
0409 395 010

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