Deployment of the EDGES-2 Experiment

As you may know from previous blog posts, a radio astronomy experiment called the Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature (EDGES) is set up in the outback of Western Australia in a large, remote radio astronomy facility called the Murchison Radio Observatory (http://www.atnf.csiro.au/facilities/mro.html). Although our group at ASU, the Low-Frequency Cosmology (LOCO) Laboratory, can communicate with EDGES via the Internet, we also visit the site a couple times a year to bring improved equipment and new parts. This trip is particularly exciting because we have brought out an entirely new antenna that we call EDGES-2, and we think it is going to be a lot better than the first EDGES.

Here’s a re-cap of our first week: After arriving in Perth (on the western coast of Australia), we drove north, first to a town called Geraldton, to pick up some equipment and for me to receive some training since it is my first trip out to the site. On the way we stopped at an amazing national park, called Nambung, which is home to geologic formations called “The Pinnacles,” which are big limestone pillars: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/nambung

 

The Pinnacles on the way to Geraldton

The Pinnacles on the way to Geraldton

After stopping in Geraldton for the night, we drove out to Boolardy Station, the 1,000 square-kilometer “ranch” that houses the Murchison Radio Observatory. The homestead of Boolardy provides accommodations and food for visiting scientists and engineers and from there we drive 40 minutes each day out to the MRO, often passing many interesting animals—both wild animals and livestock.

 

Australian iguana

Australian iguana

 

Brahman bull

Brahman bull

 

We spent the first few days dismantling the old EDGES, running cables, adding new equipment to the computer area in our “hut” and setting up the EDGES-2 antenna. We also set up a new weather station that I built that will provide temperature and humidity data from the area near the antenna.

Weather station

Weather station

 

One nice thing about working out here, where we have a small space among larger radio antennas, is that there is both power and a fast internet connection that allows us to keep our experiment running and keep in touch with it at all times. The internet is good for another thing, too… Because of the time change, the ASU football team was playing Washington State at 10:30 a.m. our time on Friday morning (7:30 p.m. AZ time on Thursday night). Although we weren’t able to watch the game, we could check the score throughout the morning. Glad to see that ASU won!

In the afternoon yesterday, while we were working on some final set-up for the antenna, we suddenly felt like we were being watched. We then noticed that a very curious emu was circling us to check things out. Luckily we had the camera out with us and the emu was sufficiently curious that we had plenty of time to take pictures.

Emu behind the scenes

Emu behind the scenes

 

 

Emu surrounding us

Emu surrounding us

Our last bit of excitement upon heading back to the homestead last night was a large dust storm on the horizon. Not as dramatic as an Arizona haboob, but still pretty impressive.

Dust storm

Dust storm

 

Today we should get EDGES-2 up and taking data. Stay tuned…

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