The Pocket Radar Team and SETI

by Pocket Radar April 04, 2012

The Pocket Radar team recently had the privilege of working with the SETI institute to help evaluate a possible new radio telescope site for scientific exploration. We were very excited to get a chance to work with Dr. Frank Drake, the father of SETI and author of the famous Drake Equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

We spent the day at the Jamesburg Earth Station helping do an RF site survey to determine the suitability for possible deep space radio astronomy work. This facility went into service in 1969, just in time to carry the Moon landing live to the world. COMSAT owned and operated this 97 foot diameter, high-capacity earth station, and provided all forms of overseas communications via satellite between the U.S. and points all around the Pacific Rim. This antenna, taller than a 10-story building, is located in the Upper Carmel Valley.

We got the complete tour, including the chance to climb up to the very top of the reflector.We set up a low noise amplifier and spectrum analyzer with a broadband directional antenna and measured the radio frequency spectrum from 1 GHz to 10 GHz in a 360 degree sweep to see if the site was “quiet” enough for radio astronomy.

It was quite an honor to meet Dr. Drake and to contribute to this scientific endeavor, at least in some small way. It was a very fun excursion from our regular radar work. Who knows, maybe this will lead to some important discoveries sometime in the future.

Pocket Radar
Pocket Radar

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