Successful Test Paves Way for New Planetary Radar

The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and Raytheon Intelligence & Space conducted a test in November to prove that a new radio telescope system can capture high-resolution images in near-Earth space.

GBO’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia — the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope — was outfitted with a new transmitter developed by Raytheon Intelligence & Space, allowing it to transmit a radar signal into space. The NRAO’s continent-wide Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) received the reflected signal and produced images of the Apollo 15 moon landing site.

The proof-of-concept test, culminating a two-year effort, paves the way for designing a more powerful transmitter for the telescope. More power will allow enhanced detection and imaging of small objects passing by the Earth, moons orbiting around other planets and other debris in the Solar System.

The technology was developed as part of a cooperative research and development agreement between NRAO, GBO, and Raytheon.

“This project opens a whole new range of capabilities for both NRAO and GBO,” said Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and vice president for Radio Astronomy at Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI). “We’ve participated before in important radar studies of the Solar System, but turning the GBT into a steerable planetary radar transmitter will greatly expand our ability to pursue intriguing new lines of research.”

Using the information collected with this latest test, the participants will finalize a plan to develop a 500-kilowatt, high-power radar system that can image objects in the Solar System with unprecedented detail and sensitivity. The increased performance also will allow astronomers to use radar signals as far away as the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, increasing our understanding of the Solar System.

“The planned system will be a leap forward in radar science, allowing access to never before seen features of the Solar System from right here on Earth,” said Karen O’Neil, the Green Bank Observatory site director.

“Raytheon’s radar techniques could ultimately improve our ability to explore the Solar System,” said Steven Wilkinson, Principal Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “Working with the astronomy community allows us to apply decades of radar know-how to a project that provides high-resolution images of near-Earth objects.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Raytheon and applying their radar expertise to transform our observatories’ telescopes in new science areas,” said AUI President Adam Cohen.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory are facilities of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

In Other News…

Heising—Simons Foundation Partners with AUI and the IAU to Boost Gender Equity Programs for Young Astronomers

The Heising–Simons Foundation (HSF) has awarded $126,500 to Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to support two programs: the Women and Girls in Astronomy project and the IAU Junior Member Travel Grant Fund. Women and...

New NSF Funded Project Will Study How Podcasts Can Support Inclusive STEM Learning

[Washington, D.C.] Tumble Media, in partnership with Associated Universities Inc (AUI), Oregon State University (OSU) and Independence Science, has been awarded a $1 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division Of Research On Learning. The team will...

AUI and NRAO Announce 2022 NAC Bridge Scholarship Recipients

This news article was originally published on NRAO.edu on July 5, 2022.AUI and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have announced the recipients of the 2022 AUI Board of Trustees NAC Bridge Scholarship Award. Now in its second year, the scholarship...

Pride Month Statement

Pride Month is a time for celebration of LGBTQIA+ communities and commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 and the ensuing liberation movement it inspired for the ongoing fight for full equality.  At AUI, we celebrate an environment that is safe and welcoming...

2022 AUI Scholarship Recipients

Below are the six recipients of the 2022 AUI Scholarship conducted by International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc. These students will each receive an award of $3,500 per year to aid in defraying expenses at the college or university of their choice. ELIJAH...

Astronomers Reveal First Image of the Black Hole at the Heart of Our Galaxy

This news article was originally published on NRAO.edu on May 12, 2022.Credit: EHT CollaborationAt simultaneous press conferences around the world, including at a National Science Foundation-sponsored press conference at the US National Press Club in Washington, D.C.,...

Scientists Find Elusive Gas From Post-starburst Galaxies Hiding in Plain Sight

This news article was originally published on NRAO.edu on Apr. 25, 2022.Scientists discovered that post-starburst galaxies condense their gas rather than expelling it, begging the question: what’s actually keeping them from forming stars? Post-starburst galaxies were...

Applications Accepted for 2022 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program (ACEAP).

Inspiring, Retaining and Promoting Female Talent in STEM Careers

Retaining and promoting female talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a goal that must be embraced by large scientific facilities, civil society, academia and the private sector.

NRAO Researcher Receives Prestigious Engineering Award

Matthew Morgan, a scientist and research engineer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Central Development Laboratory, has received a prestigious engineering award for work that has beneficial applications far beyond its original purpose in radio astronomy.

You are now leaving AUI

You will be redirected to the related partnering organization's website.

You will be redirected to
in 4 seconds...

Click the link above to continue or CANCEL