History of Radar - Post-war Radar - Other Radars and Applications - Radar Astronomy

Radar Astronomy

As radar was being developed, astronomers considered its application in making observations of the Moon and other near-by extraterrestrial objects. In 1944, Zoltán Lajos Bay had this as a major objective as he developed a radar in Hungary. Sadly, his radar telescope was taken away by the conquering Soviet army and had to be rebuilt, thus delaying the experiment. Under Project Diana conducted by the Army’s Evans Signal Laboratory in New Jersey, a modified SCR-271 radar (the fixed-position version of the SCR-270) operating at 110 MHz with 3 kW peak-power, was used in receiving echoes from the Moon on January 10, 1946. Zoltán Bay accomplished this on the following February 6.

Radio astronomy also had its start following WWII, and many scientists involved in radar development then entered this field. A number of radio observatories were constructed during the following years; however, because of the additional cost and complexity of involving transmitters and associated receiving equipment, very few were dedicated to radar astronomy. In fact, essentially all major radar astronomy activities have been conducted as adjuncts to radio astronomy observatories.

The radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, opened in 1963, is the largest in the world. Owned by the U.S. National Science Foundation and contractor operated, it is used primarily for radio astronomy, but equipment is available for radar astronomy. This includes transmitters operating at 47 MHz, 439 MHz, and 2.38 GHz, all with very-high pulse power. It has a 305-m (1,000-ft) primary reflector fixed in position; the secondary reflector is on tracks to allow precise pointing to different parts of the sky. Many significant scientific discoveries have been made using the Arecibo radar telescope, including mapping of surface roughness of Mars and observations of Saturns and its largest moon, Titan. In 1989, the observatory radar-imaged an asteroid for the first time in history.

Several spacecraft orbiting the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn have carried radars for surface mapping; a ground-penetration radar was carried on the Mars Express mission. Radar systems on a number of aircraft and orbiting spacecraft have mapped the entire Earth for various purposes; on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, the entire planet was mapped at a 30-m resolution.

The Jodrell Bank Observatory, an operation of the University of Manchester in Great Britain, was originally started by Bernard Lovell to be a radar astronomy facility. It initially used a war-surplus GL-II radar system operating at 71 MHz (4.2 m). The first observations were of ionized trails in the Geminids meteor shower during December 1945. While the facility soon evolved to become the third largest radio observatory in the world, some radar astronomy continued. The largest (250-ft or 76-m in diameter) of their three fully steerable radio telescopes became operational just in time to radar track Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, in October 1957.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Radar, Post-war Radar, Other Radars and Applications

Other articles related to "radar astronomy, radar":

Aleksandr Leonidovich Zaitsev
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... Radar provides the ability to study shape, size and spin state of asteroids and comets from the ground ... Radar imaging has produced images with up to 7.5-m resolution ... sufficient data, the size, shape, spin and radar albedo of the target asteroids can be extracted ...

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