Nestled in the West Virginia mountains, astronomers are discovering answers to our most astounding scientific questions.
The Green Bank Observatory is:
- home of the Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fullest steerable radio telescope
- has many other state-of-the-art instruments
- is protected by two radio quiet zones – but we are NOT the land of no internet! Go behind the click-bait headlines.
- is used by scientists and researchers around the world (including NASA!)
- trains the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technicians through award winning education programs
- a special place to live and work, surrounded by a national forest and amazing outdoor recreation
The Quiet Zone
Did you know that the GBT could “see” your mobile phone, even in airplane mode, on Mars?
GBO’s sensitive telescopes can detect cosmic phenomena billions of light years away from Earth. A wide variety of electronic devices, like those with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, emit radio waves that interfere with our observations. They block out the distant signals astronmers are trying to detect.
When the Observatory was created, the Federal Communications Commission established two unique “quiet zones” to protect work being done here in Green Bank and at federal facilities in Sugar Grove, West Virginia. The National Radio Quiet Zone and the West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zone provide unique protection from many forms of human-made radio frequency interference.
The NRQZ covers approximately 13,000 square miles. Many people live in the quiet zone without even realizing it! Coordination is required for the construction of all new (or modified) permanent, fixed, licensed transmitters.
The WVRAZ defines a 10-mile radius immediately surrounding GBO within which the operation of any electrical equipment which interferes with radio astronomy is prohibited.
Despite popular misconceptions, the “quiet zone” does not mean “no internet.” The Observatory relies on internet connectivity to do our work, to control the GBT, and to share our science with the world. GBO staff are advocates for improved internet service in our rural community.