First verified signals received with Metsähovi's new VGOS radio telescope

The National Land Survey of Finland is upgrading its geodetic research station in Metsähovi to make it one of the most versatile geodetic fundamental stations in the world. The new VGOS (Very Long Baseline Interferometry Global Observing System) radio telescope is one of the stations’s key geodetic infrastructures. The first verified signals have already been obtained with the telescope’s new receiver.

The receiver is being lifted to the telescope with a crane.
Photo:
Nataliya Zubko

The last few weeks have been busy in Metsähovi with the VGOS radio telescope getting a new broadband receiver. The receiver will be used to detect signals from very distant extragalactic radio sources.

The receiver has been developed and manufactured by IGN Yebes Technology Development Center, Spain. First, the receiver’s performance was verified in the laboratory to ensure that it was not damaged during the transportation.  After successful tests the 200 kg receiver was lifted onto the telescope for installation in the feed cone. 

'The space is limited in the feed cone, so you need to avoid having a heavy breakfast when working with the receiver,' laughs Chief Expert Joona Eskelinen from the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI). 

 

Installing the receiver, Joona Eskelinen standing in the front.
Photo: Nataliya Zubko

 

Despite the difficult conditions they had to work in, the team experienced only a few minor drawbacks. 

'The installation of the new 2-14 GHz receiver went well. We look forward to continuing with testing and optimizing the whole signal chain for VGOS. A big thanks goes to the Yebes staff for all their efforts,' says Joona Eskelinen. 

First signals came from Cassiopeia A

The first observed sky object was Cassiopeia A, the brightest radio source to be located 11,000 light years away from earth. 

'After only a minor adjustment we were able to verify clear power peaks when pointing the telescope at the source. We are happy to say that the first signals have now been received,' says Specialist Research Scientist and manager of the VGOS project Nataliya Zubko from FGI. 

High level accuracy with the VGOS network

'The next phase is to prepare for VGOS compatibility. When our system is fully operational and tested, we will join the VGOS network that consists of dozens of telescopes similar to ours system located all around the world,' says Nataliya Zubko. 

The state-of-the-art VGOS telescope network is currently replacing the old legacy VLBI telescopes. The whole VGOS network is coordinated by the International VLBI Service (IVS) and is designed to achieve high level accuracy in positioning. It serves and contributes to define Terrestrial and Celestial Reference Frames, and the Earth’s position and orientation in space.

Improved positioning is vital for providing accurate coordinate systems for the observation of various geophysical processes related to climate, atmosphere, sea and land studies. VGOS observations provide information on various geophysical processes continuously ongoing on the Earth, such as crustal motion and plate tectonics, content and variation of water vapour in the atmosphere, ocean and atmosphere loading, etc.

Research contributes to the community

Metsähovi is a geodetic fundamental station and part of Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS). Metsähovi’s upgrade has been ongoing since 2012 and is estimated to be finished in 2022. It is funded by the Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture together with the National Land Survey of Finland. After the upgrade, Metsähovi will be among the few stations with such diverse infrastructure. 

'This is a strong contribution to the GGOS from Finland that strengthens international effort in this domain,' says Director of Department Markku Poutanen from FGI.

Metsähovi geodetic research station has societal importance contributing to the GGOS that addresses such important issues as global risk management, geo-hazards, natural resources, climate change, sea level estimations and forecast, space weather, to name but a few.

'In the near future we look forward to joining the VGOS network and contributing to the community with our observations and research,' says Nataliya Zubko.

More information

Specialist Research Scientist, project manager Nataliya Zubko, +358 50 528 0640

Chief Expert Joona Eskelinen, +358 50 472 9544

Emails are firstname.lastname@nls.fi
 

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