Soviet Radio Telescopes

Old Russian radars in Latvia

Somewhere between Ventspils and Kolka cape in Latvia (ex-Soviet country) is located two radio telescopes (also known as “zvjozdachka” – the star), that in those days were one of most secret elements in soviet army. There are two antennas left – RT-32 (main dish is 32 meters in diameter) and RT-16 (16 meters). The smallest one – RT-10 – was taken away when soviet soldiers left Latvia in 90-ies. With those antennas Russian forces were able to spy phone calls everywhere they wanted.

Old Russian radars in Latvia 2

Old Russian radars in Latvia 3

When entering the complex (area – 200 ha), first you can see abondend city where soviet army forces and scientists used to live. All of that was so secret that even Latvian soldiers and scientists were shocked when they saw what has been here all the time (in fact, all Northern and costal part of Kurzeme was strictly no inhabitants zone).

Old Russian radars in Latvia 4

Old Russian radars in Latvia 5

Old Russian radars in Latvia 6

Back in 1993, when Soviet forces were preparing to leave Latvia, they wanted to blow up all those buildings (what can’t be their, can’t be anybody’s). Although, because of last minute call from Russian Academy of Sciences and international astronomers, they just demolished them – Latvia’s scientists received RT-32 and RT-16 with nails hammered into wires, with acid poured on main system parts and with no plans how to start up this equipment. Interessting, that all damage was made after plan – believing that Soviets will come back someday.

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Old Russian radars in Latvia 8

In less than 20 years Latvians managed to repair all this and replace all the equipment with modern PC so that foreign scientists can come and work. But it has a downside – now tourists aren’t allowed to go inside there.

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Old Russian radars in Latvia 10

Nowadays RT-32 is used for science. Because of it’s precision (it’s one of most precise radio telescopes in world), it can be used to listen signals from space. The most furthern constellation that was received was Swan’s constellation – 500 million light years away.

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Old Russian radars in Latvia 12

The RT-16 is being renovated and it will be used for young scientists from Ventspils University that will monitor their sattelite that they are preparing to put into space.

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Old Russian radars in Latvia 14

Back in soviet times all three antennas were connected with underground paths. Nowadays there are not in use but they still are there. Tourists are not allowed to view them.

by Aigars L.

25 thoughts on “Soviet Radio Telescopes”

  1. Nevertheless radio telescopes were used for intelligence gathering purposes. One was to pick radar signals that were reflected back from the moon.
    SIGINT satellites provide to be more useful but anyway there are reasons for militaries to use equipment normally associatted with science than espionage.

  2. Been there. This “article”, as usually, has several great statements:

    1)a ghost city – two abandoned houses
    2)used by foreign scientists – yeah, right, Latvia has no scientists and the telescope is so world-famously-precise, that there are only foreign scientists queuing up and using it 😀
    3)all Northern and costal part of Kurzeme was strictly no inhabitants zone – sure, it had way more military objects than elsewhere in Latvia and most of the ex-USSR, which meant that no inhabitants should be allowed around them, but the key is that northern part of kurzeme has never been even lightly populated, because of the swampy area.

  3. Nevertheless radiotelescopes can be used for intelligence gathering purposes. One, is collecting radar signals that bounce off from the moon for example.
    SIGINT satellites prove to be more useful but anyway is a reminder that radiotelescopes more oftenly associated with science can be used for espionage

    • That is a lie, then why does USA keep NORAD (a series of military telescopes in NW terrtories) so top secrete that only special Canadian forces agents can visit them?

  4. Thanks for mentioning that Latvia is not part of Russia. Previous posts did not say that and Latvians don’t like to be thought of as part of that big, brutal and corrupted country to the east.

    • STFU Dan, the only reason for their collaspe was due to American funding for the mafia in creating corruption in the USSR, just get over it and stop being jealous of their advantages in terms of Military tech!!!

      Mafia’s head boss talking in court about realtions with the US gov and the Vatican towards his gang

      Research on reasoning to prostution in Rissia (Note, research done by an American professor)

  5. What’s wrong with Bush? It’s his actions that are leading to the downfall of Iran and Islam. George Bush is a great man that should be admired in every country.


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