60 years of Radio Astronomy in Green Bank

While the Green Bank Observatory celebrates its one-year anniversary in October, the location itself (Green Bank) is celebrating a much longer relationship with radio astronomy. Green Bank, West Virginia, was the first home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and we are celebrating 60 years of research and discovery this year!

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Green Bank Telescope Aids in Finding Lost Spacecraft

image of the moon showing location of spacecraft. GBT received radar signal as an inset.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Finding a tiny lost space-craft at a distance of 270,000 miles away may seem impossible, but NASA scientists have done just that. Using a new radar technique, they have located India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft which has been lost since August 2009, the last time any communication was received from it. Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the moon, is a very small cube about five feet (1.5 meters) on each side — about half the size of a smart car. JPL scientists used NASA’s 70-meter (230-foot) antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves directed toward the moon. Then the radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-meter (330-foot) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

According to the NASA press release, the successful rediscovering of Chandrayaan-1 provides the start for a unique new capability. Ground-based radars using large antennas including the GBT could be used as a collisional hazard assessment tool and as a safety mechanism for spacecraft that encounter navigation or communication issues, in future robotic and human missions to the moon.

Read the full press release here.

Young Astronomer Shines at Astronomy Meeting

Cannan Hue-You at the AAS
Just 11 years old (but already a high-school senior), Cannan Huey-You explains what’s happening to a massive gas cloud called Complex A at last week’s meeting of professional astronomers.
American Astronomical Society

Cannan Huey-You, just 11 years old, impressed professional astronomers in January with his research on a massive intergalactic gas cloud.

When astronomers and astrophysicists descended on Grapevine, Texas, this past January for the semiannual conference that many call the “Super Bowl of Astronomy,” they were joined by the meeting’s youngest participant ever.

On Friday, 11-year-old Cannan Huey-You walked up to his poster and described research on the object known as Complex A, a massive gas cloud destined to crash into the Milky Way.

Read the Full story on Sky & Telescope

UPDATE – 02/2017

A video on his presentation is now available on Newswise.

Transformative Science for the Next Decades with the Green Bank Observatory

Big Questions, Large Programs, and New Instruments (October 16-20): With new instruments and excellent performance, the 100m Green Bank Telescope is only just reaching its full potential. On this 60th anniversary of the ground breaking for the Green Bank Observatory, we are holding a workshop looking toward the next 10, 20, and even 60 years of the Green Bank Observatory, and invite the community to attend and aid us in planning the future.

“…comet swarm, cloud of debris, or alien construction site”- Tabby’s Star Scrutinized by Green Bank Telescope

A fascinating article recently published by Astronomy Magazine, describes observations made using the Green Bank Telescope of a very quirky star known as Tabby’s Star (named after Tabetha Boyajian, the post-doc who studied its behavior).  Tabby’s star dims  substantially, at irregular intervals, setting it apart from other stars that harbor exoplanets.  What could account for these irregular dips in the star’s light? There are several ideas and they are all interesting.  But perhaps the most interesting of all is that the dimming is due to a massive array of solar energy-collecting structures in orbit around the star itself.

Want to know more?  Read the article on Astronomy Magazine’s website.