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Global radio telescope array

Unplug decoder from satellite dish:plug in radio astronomy thingy
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Reading about the square kilometer array recently I wondered whether we take advantage of the probably millions of satellite dishes available on the side of peoples' houses to achieve something similar for much less money and still cover a giant area ?
monojohnny, Sep 02 2011

Square km array http://en.m.wikiped...are_Kilometre_Array
[monojohnny, Sep 02 2011]

Very Large Very Small Telescope Array Discover_20Habitabl...0Professionals_20Do
[theircompetitor, Sep 03 2011]

(?) Massive Amateur Telescope Array Massive_20amateur_20telescope_20array
[theircompetitor, Sep 03 2011]

Making radio telescope out of tv antenna dish http://www.ehow.com...adio-telescope.html
[theircompetitor, Sep 03 2011]

[link]






       This idea is either brilliant or stupid, and I'm going with brilliant.   

       If standard satellite dishes won't do it, maybe radio- astronomers could sponsor custom dishes which will give satellite reception and pick up Saggitarius Eta in their spare time.   

       [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 02 2011
  

       Maybe [bigsleep] was alluding to this, but to use these as a telescope you'd have to aim them. Currently they are all focused on satellites in geosyncronous orbit. Anything farther away than that will be completely out of focus when you try to combine the data from all these dishes.   

       If you added an aiming mechanism, they might be made to be dual-purpose. Perhaps you could take advantage of that tracking capability to provide TV, phone, and internet through satellites in a lower orbit. Of course if you have internet through a satellite, you won't be able to upload data when your dish is pointed at the stars.
scad mientist, Sep 02 2011
  

       Why not just put your array on Vesta ? No atmosphere, much less RF interference, cheap real estate prices ...   

       Not even much of a commute, but you can just beam the data back to Earth for analysis.
8th of 7, Sep 02 2011
  

       //to use these as a telescope you'd have to aim them//   

       I dunno. I have this gut feeling that, given enough dishes, there'd be some way to recover something from them. For one thing, diffractive optics let you "see" in directions you're not actually looking in.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 02 2011
  

       yeah I think an aiming mechanism of some sort would be necessary, otherwise you wouldn't get any parallax, all the dishes would (still) be converging on the satellites.
FlyingToaster, Sep 02 2011
  

       //you wouldn't get any parallax// Wouldn't you get plenty of parallax at distances greater than that of the satellites?
mouseposture, Sep 03 2011
  

       I believe there are several of these on the HB (see link) and it is baked, to boot -- see annotations within linked idea. [marked-for-deletion] redundant, sorry
theircompetitor, Sep 03 2011
  

       No [m-f-d]. The idea is original. Sure distributed arrays are baked and amature ones are halfbaked, but this idea is about reusing something that is installed already on millions of houses. Maybe the amateur telescope array is also made up of telescopes that people already owned, but most of those were probably already interested in astronomy. Like the SETI at home project, if this could work, and it didn't cost people any additional money to set up, I bet you'd get a lot of people who aren't normally that intereted in radio telescopes to hook up their dish to help out.
scad mientist, Sep 03 2011
  

       //parallax// How ? none of the dishes would be pointing in the same direction.
FlyingToaster, Sep 03 2011
  

       So ok - all of the dishes are focused at a fixed distance in (I think at points along geostationary orbit), the directions are different, they are tuned to pick up particular wavelengths-wavelengths which are flooded with actual satellite signals. But there a lot them-and we could with if addition of a gps signal pinpoint the locations of each accurately. Is there something useful to astronomy in this soup we could still pick out ? After all Batman managed to find the joker with just all the mobile phones in gotham. . .
monojohnny, Sep 03 2011
  

       Sorry, while using the antenna dish as a radio telescope is certainly a clever idea, it's not new (see link). Once it is a telescope, putting it into an array, is not new either.
theircompetitor, Sep 03 2011
  

       Also-is it not possible to infer the direction of any one particular dish electronically? Can we detect the phase of the signals from the actual satellite signals? Could that be used somehow-also do we know the exact position of the satellites-and could that information also be useful?
monojohnny, Sep 03 2011
  

       @theircompetitor great link. So the principle of reconfiguring a single satellite dish into an astronomical instrument is baked, as is the idea of ganging up multiple astronomical instruments to make a larger one. So the last piece of the pie (in if sky if you will) is the crowd-sourcing element . . . . So i'm asserting that the idea here is really the 'thingy' that needs to be designed and built and accompanying network to make it work. Theoritically - what could we do with the millions (citation needed) of existing satellite dishes that we cant already do. . . ?
monojohnny, Sep 03 2011
  

       Fixed dishes which only point at one satellite, can still be used as 'spotters' for the main array given that there's so many of them. For that you'd need the GPS coordinates of the installation.
FlyingToaster, Sep 03 2011
  

       GPS coordinates are reasonably easy to find... look up the street address - automatable.   

       Knowing how the mechanism that moves the dish around stores its information (standard for each model), combined with what setting is used to point it at satellites x and y, gives you the ability to point any particular dish where you want it - also automatable.   

       So the individual owner fills out a form giving street address of the installation and the brand/model# of the receiver.   

       Even fixed-dishes (which can't move around) can be used as rough spotters for whichever area of the sky they happen to be pointed at.
FlyingToaster, Sep 03 2011
  
      
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