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Balancing Safety & Science in the Radio Quiet Zone

The campus of the Green Bank Observatory, photo credit Jay Young.

How do you make a 911 call in the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ)? For residents of Pocahontas County, one of the largest and most rural areas located in the NRQZ, new radio communications coverage has been introduced for first responders.


Astronomers Apply New AI Technique to Accelerate the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Are we alone in the universe?

The GBT at night, photo credit Jee Seymour.

Scientists may have just moved us closer to answering this question. The team – led by researchers from the University of Toronto – has streamlined the search for extraterrestrial life by using a new algorithm to organize the data from their telescopes into categories, to distinguish between real signals and interference. This has allowed them to quickly sort through the information and find patterns, through an artificial intelligence process known as machine learning.


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Drake Lecture

Frank Drake
Frank Drake – Source, NRAO; AUI

Dr. Frank Drake, the Lectureship’s namesake, has had a long and distinguished career that began at the Observatory in Green Bank. His scientific achievements include discovery of the radiation belts of Jupiter, and the measurements and characterization of the radio sources at the center of the Milky Way. He also contributed to our understanding of the high surface temperature of Venus. In 1960, using a radio telescope at Green Bank, he made the first modern search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, He thus began an area of scientific research that has continued and is flourishing today, engaging creative minds worldwide.

To honor Drake’s impact on the public understanding of science, an award was established in 2019. The award is given to someone from the sciences, arts or humanities in recognition of their contributions to advancing human knowledge and creativity who is selected to share a lecture about their work.

Past Recipients

2022 – astrophysicist Alyssa Goodman, Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy at Harvard University

2021 – Delayed due to pandemic

2020 – Delayed due to pandemic

2019 – Ira Flatow, science journalist and host of the popular radio show Science Friday.

NSF and SpaceX Finalize Radio Spectrum Coordination Agreement

Photo credit Dave Green.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and SpaceX have finalized a radio spectrum coordination agreement to limit interference from the company’s Starlink satellites to radio astronomy assets operating between 10.6 and 10.7 GHz. The agreement, detailed in a statement released by NSF today, ensures that Starlink satellite network plans will meet international radio astronomy protection standards, and protect NSF-funded radio astronomy facilities, including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Green Bank Observatory (GBO). The agreement will also positively impact collaborations and cooperation between SpaceX and NSF’s NOIRLab.