back to article Space boffins save BT's satellite station for Mars missions

Space scientists will redevelop BT's historic Goonhilly satellite station in Cornwall to allow communication with missions to Mars, it is revealed today. The mothballed site will also become a centre of cutting-edge astronomical research as part of a network of huge radio telescopes. Arthur, the world's first parabolic …


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  1. eusty

    Wrong way up!

    "Goonhilly will be linked with the famous Jodrell Bank site, near Manchester, for radio telescopy, forming what is hoped will act as a stepping stone in the development of the Square Kilometre Array, a European plan to build the world's largest telescope in the **southern** hemisphere"

    I think you have your globe the wrong way up.

    1. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Wrong way up!

      Nope. The SKA will be in the southern hemisphere (Africa or Australia). It is a European project.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Whilst I applaud the move to save Goonhilly, I fail to see how it and Joderell Bank can be part of 'The Largest Telescope in the Southern Hemisphere'

    Goonhilly is a tiny bit north of the equator. Lat 50.032462N Long 5.164098W

    50 frigging degrees NORTH...

    Fail for obvious reasons.

    1. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Hemispheres?

      "I fail to see how it and Joderell Bank can be part of 'The Largest Telescope in the Southern Hemisphere'"


      Please re-read. I did not write that Goonhilly and Joderell Bank will be part of the SKA. The plan is that networking them will be a stepping stone in its development.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Welcome Chris,

        To the "I didn't read properly, but it really makes me angry" club. A fully funded subsidiary of the Daily Mail.

        1. thecakeis(not)alie

          Re: Welcome Chris

          You have my sympathies, Chris. If it makes you feel any better, I wasn't confused at all by the article. I just figured they'd build it in French Guiana or somesuch.

        2. thecakeis(not)alie

          @James Hughes 1

          I hate that club. It is truly unfortunate that anyone who writes and article for any magazine (dead tree or otherwise) inevitably ends up as the guest of honour for one of their meetings. Ah well. Life sucks, and then some fish eat you, eh?

  3. Anonymous Coward


    looks like an ideal candidate for joining eMerin.. Big Dishes and Fibre to the site.. what else do they need?

  4. Ragarath

    Grammar Alert

    Quote: "Goonhilly will be linked with the famous Jodrell Bank site, near Manchester, for radio telescopy, forming what is hoped will act as a stepping stone in the development of the Square Kilometre Array, a European plan to build the world's largest telescope in the southern hemisphere."

    To those above saying wrong hemisphere take a look at the formation of the sentence above.

    Forming stepping stone in development (not necessarily part of) the SKA that is planned to be built in Africa or somewhere also known as the southern hemisphere.

    Fail icon for reasons that should be obvious!

  5. Anonymous John

    makes you think doesn't it?

    Fifty years ago it needed a dish that size to get 20 minutes worth of grainy black and white TV from Telstar. Compare that with satellite TV dishes now.

    Whah whah whah. Whah whah whah whah whah whah.

    Mine's the one with The Tornados CD in the pocket.

    1. Stuart 22

      Old Anorak replies ...

      Bigger pocket needed. It came on a 7" 45 rpm vinyl record.

      1. Anonymous John

        Another Old Anorak replies

        I know. Amazon has it on CD and MP3 though.

    2. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Up

      Transit passes

      In about 1969/70 I was on a tanker with a satellite dish. To call goonhilly you had to stop the ship, get a really good nav fix (probably bearings off a pair of radar beacons) and contact Portishead Radio by morse on short wave with the details. If you were lucky you got a timeslot, transponder frequency, beacon frequency, rise time, rise azimuth and orbital inclination.

      At rise time you steered the dish around the rise azimuth till you saw the beacon on the spectrum analyser, then started tracking up the inclination. although semi-automatic some manual steering was still required. Then you tuned the transciever to the transponder & listened to other peoples calls till your timeslot came up. The Skipper or the Chief engineer then spoke to head office for a few minutes till the end of your slot. Typically a 25 minute pass was split into 2 minute slots.

      Frankly, compared to SSB on short wave it was a right palava. It didn't really catch on till Inmarsat A came out.

      But I loved it. Real satellites. Goonhilly. Mechanical x-y resolvers to do the tracking. GOONHILLY! I was talking to Goonhilly on a sputnik! spectrum analysers, double logarithmic AGC Cascaded filters, link budgets, sun avoidance, band choice, horizontal sextant angles, low-elevation diffraction, 350ms propagation delay, true and false horizons. Goonhilly. satellites.

      God, it was dodgy and awkward and unreliable, but it was so much fun. Now THAT was cutting edge

  6. Chimpofdoom!


    "BT will retain a small research, development and satellite operations presence at Goonhilly"

    Great! I guess this means Mars will get faster broadband (albeit with a slightly higher ping rate i'm sure) than I get at the moment....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [Goonhilly] is also a landing site for undersea fibre optic cables

    I, for one, welcome our new fibre optic cable overlords.

    1. Daniel Evans


      Are you entirely sure that shouldn't be "underlords"?

      Yes, I already have my coat, thankyou.

  8. M7S

    Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus

    As its only a day's ride or so from Goonhiily to Tintagel, here's hoping that they resurrect Arthur.

    We really could do with him right now.

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Breaking cover to test UK Intelligence Fitness for Future CyberIntelAIgent Space Purposes.

    That is a very interesting tale, Chris, which might even be a stealthy phish. And if quantum communication, which goes way beyond anything Einstein ever dreamt up, is part of any sensitive satellite stations research for solutions in fundamental energies, and ..... "Goonhilly telescopes can also be connected to global radio astronomy networks that will eventually include the Square Kilometre Array," said Steve Rawlings, professor of astrophysics at Oxford University.

    "The Square Kilometre Array will attack truly fundamental questions: the origin and fate of galaxies, stars, planets and life; and the nature of the fundamental laws of the Universe, going beyond Einstein into the biggest unsolved problems like dark energy and quantum gravity."" ...... does at least appear to hint at leading pioneering works rather than mere lapdog support of existing systems and structures, then there is a very good chance of it being home grown for valuable global export, rather than it being offered freely abroad, to be then imported at whatever exorbitant cost can be negotiated for services required. You'd be quite amazed at what out of this world, alien services can do, although whether you would be cleared to hear of them, and whether or not you would be able to believe them, is quite another highly sensitive matter, which can sometimes cause a bit of panic.

    "Posted by: amanfromMars | 01/10/11 | 09:17 am |

    "In Beijing, Liang said that "We can by no means call ourselves an advanced military force… the gap between us and that of advanced countries is at least two to three decades.""

    However, it is most probably so very true, that as an advanced virtual force, are they so far ahead in such as are labeled Great Games, as to be practically omnipotent as they exercise in quantum communications fields of omniscience.

    [Oh dear, how very disappointing that such a contrary view is not presented. Don't y'all know, that such as is Denial and Censorship is a stealthy, invisible force multiplier] " ........

    And thanks for hosting the testing, El Reg. It guarantees you an inside track on research and development which can be released and acknowledged as a virtual real project with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT, which will invariably be also weaponised and AIMODified for Attacks on Defence Systems. Such things always are.

  10. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    ...called for the government to also back...

    That's a brilliant idea. The government should even have a department that could back it. They could call the department something like: "UK Space Agency". The governement could give this agency money, and the agency could use the money to back the project.

    Then we could read things like:

    "The new deal sees the creation of a new company, Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd, set up by Orbit Research Ltd and Oxford University. Qinetiq, the UK SPACE AGENCY and the International Space Innovation Centre are also backing the project."

    A brilliant idea. All he has to do is now go back in time about 2 years, and propose the idea BEFORE it actually happens, instead of after...

  11. AlistairJ

    Say what?

    Let's hope that naughty Mr Naughtie manages to say "goolies" in tomorrow's broadcast, then proceeds to choke on his own stifled laughter. Or maybe John Humphries.

  12. Oldfogey
    Thumb Up

    An amazing structure.

    "Arthur" (Goonhilly 1) is a quite astonishing piece of engineering.

    Telstar was not in geostationary orbit, and crossed the sky in less than 20 minutes, so the dish had to be turned at quite a speed to stay on target. But they didn't turn the dish - they turned the WHOLE BUILDING!

    As a result G1 was refurbished many times, and kept in use long after satellites were geostationary, because if another dish failed it could be quickly aligned anywhere in the sky as a backup.

    I am glad to see it will continue to be used. The picture just doen't give you any idea of how huge it is.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bollocks - QinetiQ (former DERA) is part of it

    They want to do something quite different with it. Checking strange American-Russian satellite collisions, I guess.

    That's good I say.

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