David Schneider built his own radio telescope out of roof flashing, an empty paint thinner can, a free software-defined radio app, USB receiver, and a length of coaxial cable. The whole project cost him less than $150 and he's already used it to detect galactic hydrogen and monitor the motion of our Milky Way galaxy's spiral arms. (With a radio telescope, you look for and measure radio-frequency radiation emitted by astronomical objects.) From IEEE Spectrum:
Point at Cygnus and you’ll receive a strong signal from the local arm of the Milky Way very near the expected 1420.4-MHz frequency. Point it toward Cassiopeia, at a higher galactic longitude, and you’ll see the hydrogen-line signal shift to 1420.5 MHz—a subtle Doppler shift indicating that the material giving off these radio waves is speeding toward us in a relative sense. With some hunting, you may be able to discern two or more distinct signals at different frequencies coming from different spiral arms of the Milky Way.
Don’t expect to hear E.T., but being able to map the Milky Way in this fashion feels strangely empowering. It’ll be $150 well spent.
More than 125 of these curious soccer ball-sized glass spheres hang near the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though they’re deep underwater, they’re keeping a constant vigil for neutrinos, particles that may be evidence of dark matter, supernovae, and neutron stars far off in intergalactic space. Eventually, the Cubic Kilometer Neutrino Telescope (KM3NeT) will […]
A key challenge in building colonies on the moon is that it’s incredibly expensive to transport construction materials to space from Earth. That’s why researchers are exploring how moon bases could be mostly constructed from raw materials already there. A team of scientists working with the European Space Agency (ESA) are exploring how urine could […]
The new Mars rover Perseverance, set to launch in July for a February 2021 landing, will be outfitted with its own small helicopter. NASA engineers at Kennedy Space Station recently put the chopper through its paces, marking the last time they’ll spin it up before landing on the red planet. From Kennedy Space Center: The […]
Can’t sit still during the pandemic? You’re not alone. Many folks are using their social distancing time to decompress and zone out on Tiger King, some even pushing back against the idea of being productive. But plenty of others find themselves bored, restless, and in need of projects and goals, somewhere to direct their energy. […]
Even if you don’t miss much else about the office right now, there’s a good chance your home laptop is making you nostalgic for the added efficiency of that pair of monitors on your desk at work to spread out your workflow. There’s no telling how long the new normal may continue to be the […]
If you’re looking to become a software engineer or it’s an idea you’ve tossed around half-seriously, there may be no better time than now to take the leap. It’s one of the fastest-growing, most in-demand roles already. And in the midst of the pandemic, between the extra hours you likely have in your day, and […]