Antennas and Radio Telescopes

Galbiati collaborates in the ASTRI Project

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


INAF – Brera Astronomical Observatory: The GEC Consortium (formed by the Galbiati Group and the EIE GROUP) signed the contract for the development of the first four ASTRI radio telescopes within the context of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project.

On Monday November 18, 2013, in the presence of the Director of the Brera Astrononomical Observatory – INAF, Prof. Giovanni Pareschi, coordinator of the ASTRI Project, within the scope of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the GEC Consortium formed by the Galbiati Group and the EIE GROUP signed a contract for the development of the first four ASTRI radio telescopes. The plans include a mini-array of SST (Small Size Telescope) radio telescopes, constituting the “seed” around which the entire CTA project is expected to grow.

Below, a photo from the meeting during which the contract was signed by the Galbiati Group, for the development of the first four radio telescopes.

Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project.

The CTA project, administered by a consortium of scientific institutions from more than 20 countries and funded by the European Commission, will be the most powerful and flexible gamma-ray observatory ever built. The project will provide for the construction of two observatories, one located in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere, consisting in turn of an array of radio telescopes. At the centre, a number of large radio telescopes with a 23-meter diameter will be positioned, surrounded by dozens of medium size radio telescopes (with a 12-meter diameter). The observatory in the southern hemisphere will also rely on dozens of small radio telescope with a diameter of 4 meters each.

Thanks to its large radio telescopes capable of collecting as much light as possible, the CTA will have the extraordinary ability of detecting gamma rays – special type of radiation which provide access to the most extreme phenomena of the universe. Once the gamma rays penetrate the atmosphere, they interact and produce a cascade of particles that can travel faster than light in air and than sound. The CTA Radio telescopes will take photos of these particles and reconstruct the direction of arrival corresponding to each gamma ray.

The CTA observatory will therefore collect images of the light produced by each gamma photon, allowing for the unveiling and the study of more than 1,000 celestial objects as yet unknown including blacks holes, supernova remains and galaxies.

The construction of the first components of the CTA are expected to being in 2014. As soon as the first radio telescopes will be completed, scientists will begin to use them, guaranteeing their comprehensive scientific exploitation for research purposes.

The main objective of the Galbiati Group, beyond the mere contractual terms, focuses on a positive and entirely satisfactory end result, in order to confirm their professionalism in the specific field of antennas and radio telescopes. This constitutes yet another positive reference in addition to the Group’s many existing accomplishments around the world and, finally, further increases the company’s professionalism in a rather specific and fascinating sector, as is the case with radio astronomy.

32-meters Radio Telescope VLBI of Noto (Syracuse)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


… See previous paragraph

Following what is described above regarding the first phase of the recovery operation for the Noto Antenna, azimuth axis, on 16 November 2011, the site was temporarily suspended, pending the completion of the expansive mortar curing, meanwhile the construction activities of new mechanical components and revision of some Antenna details were taking place in the Oggiono workshops according to the schedule agreed with the heads of INAF and, in detail, as follows.

The construction of the Radio Telescope rail consisting of 12 circular gear teeth sectors at 30° each, was brought to a successful conclusion at the Galbiati Group workshops in Oggiono; the calendaring of the  gear teeth sectors, after the arrival of the semi-finished materials from the United States, was carried out carefully and with sufficient precision to obtain a final roundness with a max. 2 mm error (Versus 5 mm max acceptable).

The subsequent mechanical machine milling of the lower levels (Support at the base plates) and higher (For supporting the wheels of the 4 wheel boxes) as well as those of milling at 45° junctions between the heads of each sector with an adjacent one have been carried out on a numerically controlled milling machine of the latest generation, the final geometric control has confirmed a parallelism between planes and precision of the “rope” in the order of hundredths of a millimetre, well beyond expectations.

Radio Telescope gear teeth sectors

As envisaged by the Specifications in the Tender, at the Galbiati Group assembly department, this was carried out by a preliminary assembly of the whole rail (See photo) of more than 18 meters in diameter and, through modern means by LASER TRACKER controls, we proceeded with the verification of the whole geometry of the “antenna “azimuth track” system, the results obtained were more than satisfactory for both Galbiati Group as for the INAF technical experts who were present at the controls of the radio telescope.

New axes of rotation and alloy steel wheels for the radio telescope were created, hinged conically, and performed with machine tools with numerical controls and perfectly controlled within expected tolerances.

The gearboxes removed from the antenna, were removed to check the state of wear of all rotating parts (Gears and bearings), the condition of all steel components and seals; observed all rotating and static parts which were more than acceptable (Given the length of service of over 30 years), all the material of the radio telescope was reassembled, rotation was controlled, properly repainted, an activity not particularly requested in the contract that could not have been simply avoided by a professional business such as Galbiati Group, known for quality and reliability.

Radio telescope of NotoRadio telescope of Noto

All the above materials were protected, repainted in the original colour (White, see picture), properly packed and shipped to the Noto site.

In fact, after about 4 weeks, the expansive mortar has reached the degree of curing required with the help of the climate characterized by an almost constant rainfall, somewhat unusual in Sicily.  Afterwards, site activities by  A.POINT in charge of the installation and alignment of the 12 gear teeth sectors, continued to form the whole circumference, the replacement of the new wheel boxes in the radio telescope under the alidade and the removal of temporary supports that supported the entire antenna during the entire time spent for the curing of the mortar, the replacement of gearboxes and their alignment, in parallel with the above steps, a series of intermediate geometric controls and, of course, all final checks with the drafting of the relevant reports of the radio telescope materials.

Also in this second phase of Galbiati Group operations in collaboration with A. POINT, we enjoyed the active collaboration of the INAF technical experts sharing the common goal of obtaining a positive and totally perfect end result.

32-meters Radio Telescope Vlbi of Noto (Syracuse)

Monday, February 27, 2012



In Italy, in the ’60s and ’70s, the CNR (National Research Committee) ordered to a U.S. company specialized in the sector the construction of two parabolic antennas (radio-telescopes) of 32 meters in diameter, which were installed in Medicina (Bologna) and in Noto (Syracuse), and a parabolic antenna, smaller than 18 meters in diameter, installed in Matera; they constituted an integrated system of radio telescopes for astronomical observation and reception of signals from deep space in the invisible radio frequencies range.

To these antennas, another one has been recently added of 64 meters in diameter, which is currently nearing completion in San Basilio (Cagliari); It’s thus realized the integrated system distributed throughout the national territory, one of the most modern and advanced integrated system of radio telescopes in the world for radio frequencies not only for the equipments it offers, but above all due to the professionalism of the technicians of the current INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics), recognized by the international scientific community.

The parabolic antenna of Noto, in particular, due to the age and the geological conditions of the specific area where it lies, starting few years ago, has shown signs of aging and, in particular, the entire azimuthal rotation system does not guarantee any more the required the accuracy during normal operation; the concrete foundation in which the circular rails are embedded, on which the whole antenna rotates, supported by special 2+2 wheelboxes, the wear developed in time between the rails and the wheels of the same wheelboxes, the mechanical transmissions performing the azimuthal rotation, and a whole series of technical problems of pure mechanical nature led INAF to consider the need for a work of complete restoration of the whole system of azimuthal rotation of the radio-telescope.

Radio Telescope of NotoRadio telescope of Noto

The official announcement for the procurement of these works was awarded in July/August 2011 to GALBIATI GROUP, which has taken charge of the entire operation, in collaboration with specialized technicians working at the site of Noto coordinated by A. POINT of Rome; mobile precision measuring instruments are used, and all the production capacities at the workshops in Oggiono (LC) are used together with the super modern control equipment that the company has (dimensional control desk ZEISS 3500 X 6000 X 2500 at  controlled temperature, computerized LASER TRACKER). 300 days from the signing of the contract, to carry out the whole operation, were granted to INAF by GALBIATI GROUP.

The raw material, in special Cr Mo alloy steel, for the realization of new rails of the parabolic antenna, had to be procured in the United States, shipped and transported by sea to La Spezia, then to Oggiono for subsequent bending operations (in the required circularity request) and the subsequent mechanical processing to achieve the high accuracy required.

Wheels and azimuthal rotation axes of the antenna are produced from scratch, by using the most modern NiCrMo steel to increase the surface hardness compared to the original wheels, and thus ensure a longer life and reduced wear over time.

Other mechanical dparts, dismantled from the current antenna current, after a careful revision will be reused, provided those eventual minor modifications to optimize their use.

Radio telescope of NotoRadio telescope of Noto

The site in Noto was opened in early September, after implementing the necessary protections for the safety of operators and once acquired all the existing measurements and geometries for comparison with similar theoretical ones envisaged in the project and to compare them with the geometries which will be found at the end works; such measurements carried out with the required accuracy have confirmed the substantial status of breakdown of the whole azimuthal rotation system of the parabolic antenna.

One of the most delicate phases of the entire operation was one relative to the lifting (in safety and with all due cautions) of the entire antenna structure (over 200 tons) by the means of hydraulic jacks appropriately modified for that purpose and properly positioned so as to compensate the position of centre of gravity of the structure itself, not perfectly centred with respect to vertical axis thereof.

Radio telescope of NotoRadio telescope of Noto

Once done, and once stiffened in safety for the entire duration of the recovery operations, both of civil works and of the mechanical details, it has been possible to disassemble the current wheelboxes and connected mechanical transmissions of the antenna; it was then possible the dismantling of special expanded mortars in which, in due course, the worn rails were sunk and thus the dismantling of the rails themselves and the their supporting plates.

In mid-October, on site works were addressed to prepare the implementation of new plates and their alignment, the casting of the new expansive mortar and everything necessary for the installation of the new rails.

At the workshops in Oggiono, new rails, new gears and their accessories were realized, together with all the mechanical parts of the parabolic antenna that were reused (as provided in the technical specifications of the contract); all controlled and pre-assembled at GALBIATI GROUP workshops in the presence of the INAF inspectors before being transported to Noto for the implementation.

GALBIATI GROUP in collaboration with A. POINT has paid maximum attention to all the recovery operations of the azimuthal rotation of the antenna, both at the same site in Note and at the workshops in Oggiono, aand collaboration with managers of INAF resulted positive and proactive under all points of view. It was common task, beyond the mere contractual terms, that the final result came positive and perfectly satisfying to confirm the professionalism acquired by GALBIATI GROUP in the specific field of antennas and radio telescopes, to constitute a more positive reference in addition to the many already acquired and relative to achievements worldwide, and to further increase the so high professionalism in an area as specific and as fascinating as the one of radio astronomy.

It will be our care and concern to update the situation at the time of final re-assembly.

For further information about our antennas and radio telescopes, see also:

Mechanical components for satellite dishes and radio telescopes

Azimuth rotation controls: Movement and Elevation

Structures – Base and Yoke

Antennas and Radio Telescopes

Mechanical components for satellite dishes and radio telescopes

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Elevating segments with high precision teeth produced using 5-axes CNC machine tools. Pitch adjusted between two neighboring segments. Chord readings inspected on the entire set of 6 contiguous segments (nominal reference diameter of the gear greater than 28 m).

Elevating segments with high precision teethElevating segments with high precision teeth

Assembly of Elevation carriage and inspection of radial and axial run-out of the opposing rollers.

Assembly of Elevation carriage and inspection of radial

Assembly and inspection of the LMT (Large Milimetrical Telescope) radio telescope prior to shipment to its site of installation in Sierra Negra, Mexico.

Assembly of Elevation carriage

Assembly of special elevation system with permanent magnet linear motor.

Assembly of Elevation carriage

Azimuth rotation controls: Movement and Elevation

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Chord measurement of the Azimuth rotation segments for the 64 m diameter radio telescope for the SRT (Sardinia Radio Telescope) project.

Azimuth rotation controls

High stiffness slides for the support and Azimuth rotation of the entire SRT radio telescope. Photo taken during assembly and inspection in our workshop. The slides were installed on site in San Basilio, Sardinia (Italy).

High stiffness slides for the support and Azimuth rotationSlides for the support and Azimuth rotation of the entire SRT

High torsional stiffness planetary gears with self-supporting pinion for Azimuth movement and elevation.

Planetary gears

Structures – Base and Yoke

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Radio telescope cabin made entirely from carbon-fiber composite materials produced during assembly.

Radio telescope control station

Assembly of composite BUS (Back Up Structure), 12 m diameter radio telescope.

Parabolic panels of the radio telescope

Radio Telescope Construction

Monday, May 17, 2010


Radio telescope prototypes for deep space millesimal wavelength research installed at the Socorro site, New Mexico (USA).

Antennas and Radio Telescopes

Radio Telescope, SPT (South Pole Telescope) project during assembly at the South Pole research base.

Antennas and Radio Telescopes

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Galbiati Group - Engineering & Machining

23848 Oggiono (Lc) Via Cà Bianca Pascolo, 26 Italy | Fax +39 341.2633300 |
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