The construction work began on the new VLBI2010-type radio telescopes, part of the Spanish/Portuguese RAEGE project, initiated at the end of 2010 when the contract for the design, construction, and commissioning of the first three radio telescopes was awarded to MT Mechatronics (Germany). The design of the radio telescopes was completed in the summer of 2011. During 2011 and 2012 the backstructures of the three radio telescopes were built by Asturfeito in Cantabria, Spain. Other parts, such as the reflector panels, were fabricated by COSPAL Composites in Italy.
The RAEGE radio telescopes are Azimuth/Elevation turning head telescopes, reaching azimuth and elevation slew speeds of 12°/s and 6°/s, respectively. The optical design is based on a 13.2-m ring focus reflector. In its basic configuration, the observation frequency is in the range of 2–40 GHz. It can be enhanced up to 100 GHz by using additional options. For geodetic telescopes it is essential to be able to accurately measure the position of the intersection of the azimuth and elevation axes. Therefore a concrete pillar is installed at the center of the telescope tower, allowing the installation of a measurement system to be located at the intersection of axes and visible from the outside through openings. Another important requirement in geodetic VLBI is path length stability. In order to handle path length errors, an active deformation measurement and “flexible body compensation” (FBC) method is foreseen, similar to established methods used for surface and focus/pointing error corrections.
The RAEGE radio telescope at Yebes is finished and operational; the station, equipped with the new broadband receiver, has participated in the first intercontinental VGOS observation in june 2016 (see http://ivscc.gsfc.nasa.gov/publications/newsletter/issue45.pdf).
Activities have also progressed substantially at RAEGE’s Santa María site; the antenna and control building are completed, and commissioning is ongoing.