Thursday, 31 July 2014

ISR School: Don't Feel Like Walking?

So you are at Arecibo Observatory and you want to get onto the platform, but don't want to go on what is locally known as the "catwalk?" No worries, there's the cable car! The first photo, taken from the platform, which is suspended some 150 metre above the 305-metre main reflector of the Arecibo radio telescope / radar, shows the catwalk leading away from the platform down to the visitor centre on the right of the image. Also at the visitor centre is one of the three towers, from which the platform is suspended. To the left of the tower, the group of buildings in the adjacent valley, are the main administration and science building as well as the control room. Below these, there's a tiny (from this perspective) white building, which is the ground station of the cable car, indicated above by the yellow arrow. If you look really carefully (and click on the photo to zoom in), you can just make out the cables running down from the platform.

Here's the ground station of the cable car. Here there's only one, not two balancing each other like in commercial applications. Also, it is very small and the carrying capacity is limited. We were not offered a ride, since the cable car is undergoing maintenance.

The cable car, on its way up to the platform, cuts in between the tree tops and then moves out over the main reflector.

Another view from the top, just from the point where the cable car docks at the platform. This wide-angle view shows the cables on which it is suspended, and the catwalk leading away on the right. The catwalk is not only for people, all of the communication cables, electricity cables, and the high-power radar transmitter waveguide are reaching the platform via the catwalk.

Finally, here's a rather simple video taken with Craig's GoPro, which has a 170° field-of-view (diagonal), and gives an interesting perspective of the view on the way down from the platform. By the way, the funny shadows in the lower corners are my fingers, since I was holding rather tightly on to the camera in order not to loose it! Sorry about that. Click the image for the video.

Photos & video: Thomas Ulich.

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