Dorsalys develops the Iram’s fibrenetwork on Pic de Bure plateau, in adizzying operation !

French institute for millimetre wave astronomy Iram commissioned our Dorsalys experts to carry out a high-flying operation at an altitude of over 2,550 m. They took charge of fibre optic cabling for the Grenoble-based institute’s 37 space observation stations on Bure mountain peak plateau, in the Hautes-Alpes department (05).

The Iram specializes in space research and astronomical observation, and has an interferometer (or radio telescope) called NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array (Noema).

The Noema observatory is located on Bure peak plateau and comprises twelve 15 m diameter parabolic antennas. The park was recently expanded, and our teams were asked to update the fibre optic network between the antennas and to wire new stations (or observation posts) enabling the observatory to increase its resolution and make it the most powerful millimetre radio telescope in the northern hemisphere. 

This very atypical work site was only accessible on foot for the last 500 metres, with part of it in a 4×4 or a snow groomer and crampons on days with heavy snow! Bure plateau is also subject to violent winds and other bad weather. These complex weather conditions only served to strengthen the agents’ involvement; they were all fully committed to their assignment. From a logistical point of view, we had to transport all the equipment by cable car and we worked with sensitive military-type fibre optic equipment (Radiall connectors),” said works manager Sébastien Bouillon.  

After rolling out 43 km of optical fibre on Bure peak plateau, our specialists installed and connected optical boxes in each of the 37 observation stations, together with the main racks in the server room, before performing reflectometry measurements on the fibre optic links deployed. This extraordinary project was handed over to the Iram at the very beginning of the year. 

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