US planetary radar may get a boost from Green Bank Observatory


It was serendipity that had scientists already toying with a demonstration of a new planetary radar system just as Earth lost its most powerful such instrument.

Well, serendipity and a fervent desire for more radar observations of everything from asteroids hanging around near Earth out to icy moons around the most distant planets. And the facility behind the experiment, the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, has enough of a history with planetary radar systems to want to take on a new role in the field. The result is a tantalizing new image of a historic spot on the most familiar solar system object of all, the moon. Scientists hope the image makes the case for permanently installing a much more powerful radar transmitter at the observatory’s leading telescope, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope.

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