Ask Dr. SETI ®
The Very Small Array
The SETI League, Inc., pioneers in the use of backyard satellite TV dishes for SETI research, has since 1999 been hard at work on a new kind of radio telescope -- Array2k -- which will combine a multitude standard satellite TV antennas into a single powerful radio telescope, at a fraction of the cost of a single giant dish such as those at Green Bank and Jodrell Bank.
Our anticipated budget for Array2k is $250,000 US, or just one percent of what our colleagues at the SETI Institute are spending for their far more ambitious Allen Telescope Array. Although our financial requirement is a minute fraction of what has been spent in the past on research-grade radio telescopes, it is still a non-trivial sum, which has yet to be raised, and the support of SETI enthusiasts everywhere is encouraged.
While our Array2k fundraising efforts continue, SETI League executive director H. Paul Shuch has begun construction of an eight-dish prototype, dubbed the Very Small Array (VSA), in the backyard of his rural Pennsylvania home. Designed to operate at 1296 MHz in the 23 cm ham band, he will be using it to run receive experiments with our W2ETI Moonbounce Beacon. The design bears superficial resemblance to the SETI Institute's better-known seven-dish Rapid Prototype Array, but is budgeted at a scant $10,000, not coincidentally just one percent of what was spent by the SETI Institute on their more complex RPA.
Watch this space in the months ahead, to see how donated dishes, student labor and volunteer design work are being combined to test a high-tech concept on a shoestring budget.
VSA Briefing Chart (Portable Document Format)
Letters of Support
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this page last updated 3 February 2007
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