Planetary Radar

Since the completion of the Arecibo upgrade, the new radar system has been used for a wide range of solar system studies. Radar images reveal a wealth of information about the shapes and surface properties of solid bodies in the solar system. The Arecibo telescope has collected data on Mercury, Venus, Jovian satellites, and Saturn's rings and satellites, and numerous asteroids and comets. Some recent results are summarized in these figures.

A major component of the upgraded telescope is the installation of a new 1 megawatt 12.6 cm radar system, which has been jointly funded by NASA and the NSF. This instrument will enable the Observatory to detect asteroids over a very much wider radial range than with the old 420 kilowatt system. We anticipate as much as a factor 40 improvement in sensitivity compared to before the Gregorian Upgrade (and in no case less than a factor of 14). Some of the improvement comes from the increase in transmitter power, some from the optics of the telescope, and some from the greatly increased zenith angle range with constant sensitivity that the new ground screen provides. 

Available equipment includes a 12.6 cm (2380 MHz) dual-polarization maser receiver with the capability of both complex voltage sampling and a new, high-throughput, radar decoder. Sampling has a limit of 10 MHz, while the decoder can operate at up to 20 MHz (7.5m range resolution).

Download more Information:

Description of the Arecibo Observatory Planetary radar

NSF Senior Review effects on the Planetary radar