Open Source Radio Telescopes
Open Source Radio Telescopes (OSRT) is a new education program which aims to inspire students of all ages to pursue STEM careers by providing them hands-on opportunities to construct and observe with simple radio telescopes. OSRT makes open source software, instructions, and curricula available online at www.opensourceradiotelescopes.org, and is in the process of developing kits of radio telescope construction supplies to distribute to classrooms for students ranging from middle-school to undergraduate-level. OSRT has developed two simple projects to date: the small loop antenna, which can detect solar flares by monitoring changes in the signal strength of VLF submarine transmission signals, and the horn antenna, which can detect and map the neutral hydrogen (HI) gas distributed throughout the Milky Way. Both of these projects make use of GNU Radio for their digital signal processing pipelines. The straightforward and visual nature of GRC flowgraphs makes GNU Radio an ideal teaching tool to show students how signal processing and computer science works, and therefore it is a vital tool for helping OSRT achieve its goal of showing students that technical topics – like engineering, programming, physical science, and mathematics – are accessible to them, therefore opening doors for students to find their passions and pursue a future in these rewarding and lucrative fields.
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