Tyre change for Lovell telescope

Engineers at Manchester University’s Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire had to help with a tyre change after a steel wheel on the 3,200-tonne Lovell radio telescope cracked.

A new wheel had to be specially manufactured in Rotherham, which took around three weeks to arrive at the observatory whilst the telescope remained jacked up.

Jodrell Bank engineer Chris Scott, who oversaw the project, said: ‘The telescope has 64 wheels, each weighing over one tonne, so I’m glad to say this is not a job we have to do every week.’

Chris is hoping the new wheel lasts as long as the old one, which had been in constant use since the telescope was completed in October 1957, and is only the second wheel that has needed changing in that time.

Dr Richard Davis, the Jodrell Bank astronomer responsible for looking after developments of the Lovell Telescope, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see the telescope back in operation after its enforced layoff these last few weeks.

‘Although it’s 50 years old, it is actually more capable than ever and plays a significant role in world astronomy as the third-largest steerable telescope and the heart of the UK’s national radio astronomy facility.’