On this day (2nd August) in 1957 construction was completed on the Lovell Telescope, a radio telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in the north-west of England. When completed the telescope was the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world at 76.2 m (250 ft) in diameter. Sixty years later it is now the third largest, after the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia, United States, and the Effelsberg telescope in Germany. The Lovell telescope became operational just in time for the launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite. While the transmissions from Sputnik itself could easily be picked up by a household radio, the Lovell Telescope was the only telescope capable of tracking Sputnik’s booster rocket by radar. Some 3,500 tons of steel support the dish. Without the annual application of 5,200 litres of weatherproof paint, the telescope on the exposed Cheshire Plain would rust away. Scaffolding cannot be used, as the telescope remains operative at night after daytime maintenance work. Instead, specially trained painters use ropes and harnesses to do the job.
This image was a prizewinner in the 2001 World Press Photo Awards.
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