VIRAC, Ventspils Starptautiskais Radioastronomijas Centrs or the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre is an ex-Soviet installation 30 km north of Ventspils, Latvia, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. VIRAC was taken over by the Latvian Academy of Sciences after the withdrawal of the Soviet Army in 1994 after Latvia regained independence.

In its current configuration it consists of a 32-metre, fully steerable parabolic, centimetre-wave range antenna (RT-32) and a 16-metre diameter antenna (RT-16). It was built by the Russian Navy.

The installation was secret until 1993, and it was the intervention of the international radio astronomy community that prevented the destruction of the facility by the nationalist enthusiasts. Since 1994, the radiotelescopes have been repaired, as they were sabotaged by the vandals.
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By: kjfitz


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