October 23, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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The crater of the moon Tycho has been revealed in detail

The Green Bank (GBO), the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and Raytheon Intelligence and Space (RI&S) have released a new high-resolution image of the Moon captured on Earth by new radar. This is the longest photo ever taken. Technology in the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).

The image of the new Tycho crater has a resolution of approximately five meters to five meters and contains approximately 1.4 billion pixels. The image covers an area from 200 km to 175 km and ensures that the scientists and engineers involved captured the entire crater, which is 86 km in diameter. Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Vice President of Radio Astronomy at Associated Universities, Inc. “This is the largest synthetic aperture radar image ever created with the help of our partners at Raytheon,” said Tony Beasley. (AUI). “As we work on improving these images, we are excited to share this wonderful image with the public, and we look forward to seeing more of this project in the near future.”

At the end of 2020, GBT – the world’s largest fully controllable radio telescope – will be equipped with new technology developed by Raytheon Intelligence & Space and GBO, which allows it to transmit a radar signal into space. Since then, numerous tests have been carried out on Tycho crater and the lunar surface using GBTs and Very Long Field Basic Antennas (VLBA). NASA Apollo landing site.

Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, USA. Credits: GBO / AUI / NSF

Do we see how this low-energy radar signal is converted into images? “It’s a process called synthetic aperture radar, or SAR,” GBO engineer Galen Watts explains. “As each pulse is transmitted by GBT, it bounces off the surface of the moon, in this case the target, and is received and stored. The stored pulses are compared with each other and used to create an image. It is analyzed.” As we move through space, the transmitter, target, and receiver are constantly moving . While you might think it can make it difficult to take a picture, it actually results in more significant data.”

This movement causes a slight difference in the radar pulse in the pulse. These differences are then examined and used to calculate a higher image resolution than is possible with static observations, as well as to increase the accuracy of distance from the target based on how quickly the target is moving toward or away from the receiver. , and how the target moves in the field of view. “This kind of radar data has never been recorded at this distance or accuracy before,” Watts said. “Previously, it was done at a distance of several hundred kilometers, but not in the range of hundreds of thousands of kilometers from this project, and at these distances with high accuracy of a meter or more, it has not yet been done. It is all too many arithmetic hours, before ten Years, receiving an image from the receiver would have taken months, possibly a year at the most.

These promising preliminary results received support from the scientific community for the project, and at the end of September, the National Science Foundation collaboration received $4.5 million in financial support for the Medium-Scale Research Infrastructure Design Award (AST-2131866). “If, following these proposals, we can have full funding support, we will be able to build a system 100 times more powerful than the current system and use it to explore the solar system,” Beasley said. “Such a new system would open a window into space, allowing us to see our neighboring planets and celestial bodies in an entirely new way.”

The facilities in West Virginia have a long history that has greatly expanded our scientific knowledge of the universe. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia said: “New images and details of Crater Tycho on the Moon using the radar technology of the Green Bank Telescope show that this is where amazing progress in science is being made in West Virginia. Over two decades in time, GBT has helped researchers Through my position on the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Commerce, Justice and Science, I have been a strong supporter of these technological advances in GBT, which will now enable GBT to transmit radar signals into space and ensure its important role in astronomical research in the years to come. I look forward To more amazing images of our solar system and future discoveries, and I look forward to more future discoveries of our solar system. Banks will continue to work with the National Science Foundation that will advocate for funds to support projects at the observatory.

This technology has been around for years and is part of a research and development cooperation agreement between NRAO, GBO and RI&S. Future high-performance radar systems combined with GBT sky coverage will display objects in the solar system with unprecedented detail and sensitivity. Expect more exciting images to arrive this fall, because processing this raw data with tens of billions of pixels of information is worth the wait.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Green Bank Observatory are facilities of the National Science Foundation, which are owned by Associated Universities, Inc. It operates under a cooperation agreement.

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