Tag Archives: NRAO

Will Green Bank soon become a little less radio quiet?

GreenBankTelescope(Source: BBC News via Richard Langley)

Disturbing the peace: Can America’s quietest town be saved?

There’s a town in West Virginia where there are tight restrictions on mobile signal, wifi and other parts of what most of us know as simply: modern life. It means Green Bank is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. But that could be set to change.

“Do you ever sit awake at night and wonder, what if?” I asked.

Mike Holstine’s eyes twinkled like the stars he had spent his life’s work observing.

“The universe is so huge,” he began.

“On the off chance we do get that hugely lucky signal, when we look in the right place, at the right frequency. When we get that… can you imagine what that’s going to do to humankind?”

Holstine is business manager at the Green Bank Observatory, the centrepiece of which is the colossal Green Bank Telescope. On a foggy Tuesday morning, I’m standing in the middle of it, looking up, feeling small.

Though the GBT has many research tasks, the one everyone talks about is the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The GBT listens out for signs of communication or activity by species that are not from Earth.

[…]Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills – as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can’t have strong wi-fi? -?though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.[…]

Read the full article on the BBC News website.

Additionally, if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, click here to watch the Click episode featuring Green Bank.

National Radio Quiet Zone featured in BBC Radio 4 series

GreenBankTelescope

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, David Freeborough, who shares this brilliant, in-depth radio documentary featured on the BBC News and BBC Radio 4.

This BBC News Magazine article introduces the documentary:

“Anyone driving west from Washington DC towards the Allegheny Mountains will arrive before long in a vast area without mobile phone signals. This is the National Radio Quiet Zone – 13,000 square miles (34,000 sq km) of radio silence. What is it for and how long will it survive?

As we drive into the Allegheny Mountains the car radio fades to static. I glance at my mobile phone but the signal has disappeared.

Ahead of us a dazzling white saucer looms above the wooded terrain of West Virginia, getting bigger and bigger with every mile. It’s the planet’s largest land-based movable object – the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) – 2.3 acres in surface area, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.

But it needs electrical peace and quiet to do its job.”

[Continue reading…]

The story continues on the BBC News site, but I would encourage you to listen to the five part radio documentary series on BBC Radio 4 first. Green Bank, WV, is certainly one part of the planet where a shortwave radio listener would be quite happy: residents have virtually no radio interference or obnoxious electrical noises that plague the rest of the modern world.

telescopes-1911The radio documentary can be streamed on the Radio 4 website.  I’ve included links to each episode below. As far as I can tell, there are no expiration dates on the Radio 4 streams:

My wife and I have camped near the NROA site in Green Bank–it’s a beautiful part of the world. I’m certainly long overdue to return!

Again, David, many thanks for sharing this!

Living in a National Radio Quiet Zone

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul, who shares this National Geographic video about Green Bank, West Virginia, USA–home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO):

My wife and I took a camping trip to Green Bank in the late 1990s when the massive Green Bank Telescope was about 80% complete. The NRAO site is inspiring and you (of course) will find no better place on the east coast for RF quiet conditions.

The staff at the NRAO give daily tours throughout the year–click here to view the schedule and costs.

I’m overdue for another visit.

Listen to asteroid echos November 8th-9th

The massive Green Bank Telescope will be listening for CW tuned to put the asteroid's echo at a constant 2380 MHz (Photo Source: NRAO / AUI / NSF)

The excellent Southgate ARC has posted information on receiving signals that the Arecibo Observatory, the Deep Space Network Goldstone facility, the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Long Baseline Array will be bouncing off of the near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55.

The asteroid will be making a 0.85 lunar distance flyby of Earth on November 8.

While the listening frequencies are well above the HF (shortwave) spectrum, many of you may have wide-band receivers or ham radio equipment that could tune in the signals. So, apologies for this slightly off-topic post. The amateur radio astronomer in me couldn’t help but promote this rather cool and unique opportunity.

From Southgate ARC:

Because YU55 will be so close to Earth, its radar echo will be detectable with even small antennas (~1 m^2). YU55’s echo will be a slowly drifting signal with a bandwidth of ~1 Hz within a few kHz of 2380 MHz or 8560 MHz.

[…]On November 8, 2011, 19:15 – 19:30 UTC, Arecibo will be transmitting a continuous wave tuned to put the asteroid’s echo at a constant 2380.000000 MHz at the Green Bank Telescope. Observers elsewhere on Earth will see the echo within 2 kHz of 2380 MHz, Doppler-shifted by the Earth’s rotation. It will be slowly drifting in frequency and have a bandwidth of ~0.6 Hz.

On November 9, 2011, 01:30 – 02:00 UTC, the Goldstone Deep Space Network facility will be be transmitting a continuous wave tuned to put the asteroid’s echo a constant 8560.000000 MHz at a second antenna at the Goldstone site. Other observers may see the echo shifted by as much as 6 kHz, and it will have a bandwidth of ~2 Hz.

Read the full article on the Southgate ARC website.