We need your help to save Ireland’s largest space asset, a massive antenna known as The Big Dish, quietly rusting in an East Cork field. The 32-metre steel dish was built in the 1980s at a cost of IR£9.5 to transmit calls from Ireland to America via satellite. It was briefly revived more than a decade ago as a radio astronomy telescope before a mechanical failure forced it offline. With no government funding available to preserve the 220 tonne structure and give it renewed purpose, its caretakers at the National Space Centre are turning to the public to secure a new scientific future for this rare and precious global asset.
With a radius of 32 meters, rotation of 540 degrees, and a weight of 220 tonnes, The Big Dish is one of only seven remaining dishes of it’s kind in the world. It is also the only one currently available for refitting for a new scientific future.
What could that future be? The Dish can be refitted for a number of new space missions, including:
- Martian or Lunar Groundstation: The Big Dish can be retrofitted as a satellite communications groundstation for Martian or Lunar communications, supporting some of the more than 50 robotic and manned space missions planned for the next 10 years
- Radio Telescope: The Dish can also be refitted to observe and study deep space, resulting in an incredible tool for researchers studying stars, galaxies, and pulsars, as well signals of unknown origin and Fast Radio Bursts
- VLBI Telescope: With the next largest dish in Ireland less than half its size, The Big Dish is Ireland's only opportunity to join the VLBI as an EVN radio telescope in the global array of dishes working in concert to produce Earth’s best view of the Universe.
But remedial preservation work on The Big Dish is urgently needed to save it in the present so it can be made ready for the future. Funds are needed to clean the dish of moss and dirt, treat rust spots, and apply a coat of protective paint across the 2500 square meter surface area of the 32-meter monolith.
Funds will be used to preserve and protect this amazing global asset while we seek out new partners to collaborate on the Dish's exciting new scientific future.
Thank you for your support and for helping us in the quest to launch The Big Dish into a new scientific future!
Head of Marketing (and the Dish's biggest fan)
National Space Centre
Fundraising team (2)
This team raised €9,050 from 133 other donations.