No one really knows what kind of signals the instrument collected, though it was likely used as part of a rapid-response system.
They also found the instrument nonfunctioning — a lightning strike had destroyed its control processor. Needing new motors and drives, the big dish languished beneath its dome.
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But in , engineer Ken Steiner visited the PARI campus as a potential volunteer, and he was tasked with bringing the telescope back to life. He enlisted the help of various contributors and volunteers — including controls engineer Rick Rudolph and some Western Carolina University engineering students. They removed the aging dome, installed new motors and drives, cleaned the entire instrument, and created software to allow users to operate the telescope remotely.
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Now fully operational after lying dormant for 25 years, the restored meter telescope captures deep-space radio energy emanating from hydrogen atoms at a frequency of megahertz. But once Smiley returns to service next year, its larger sibling will remain powered up and used as a research instrument. Shown here are several of the PARI team members responsible for bringing the telescope back to life.
This summer, Duke University students are using the m telescope as a one-of-a-kind teaching tool. Then, in the fall, PARI plans to make the instrument available to students around the world to remotely examine star formation, stellar nurseries, and the motion of stars with respect to Earth, among other projects.
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