PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Franklin O'Donnell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOctober 30, 1996
STUDENTS TO SCAN HEAVENS WITH REVITALIZED NASA DISH ANTENNA
Students from around the country will have the opportunity
to study the solar system, galaxies and quasars with a radio
telescope which NASA will operate in collaboration with a
California school district.
A 34-meter-diameter (112-foot) dish antenna at Goldstone,
CA, which was used to track deep space missions for more than
three decades before it was decommissioned in 1996, will be
remotely controlled by students and educators at the Apple Valley
Unified School District's science and Technology Center in Apple
Valley, CA. The Center is 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) from
NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin and Congressman Jerry
Lewis (R-CA) were on hand today (Oct. 30) for the signing of a
memorandum of understanding between NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory and the school district. JPL manages NASA's Deep
Space Network, a worldwide network of giant antenna dishes used
to track spacecraft and make radio astronomy studies.
"This collaboration is a great example of taking a NASA
resource and putting it into the hands of young people," said Dr.
Michael J. Klein, project manager at JPL.
According to Rick Piercy, director of the Apple Valley
Science and Technology Center, "Students will be introduced to a
new world of exploration as they study the sky at wavelengths far
beyond the tiny slice of wavelengths that human vision can
Beginning in 1997, the giant antenna dish will be used
initially by students in Apple Valley to study deep space objects
such as distant galaxies and quasars. By the end of the decade,
the center plans to make the facility available to classrooms
across the nation via remote control linkups over the Internet.
In addition to studying objects at the outer edges of the
known universe, students will be able to tune in to more local
phenomena, such as natural radio emissions from the giant planet
Jupiter within the solar system.
"Our vision in visible light is extremely limited," said
Piercy. "With a radio telescope astronomers can study the sky
over a span of wavelengths that we cannot see".
Built in 1964, the giant, steerable antenna was used to
track such missions at NASA's Lunar Orbiters as well as solar
system exploration spacecraft including Mariners, Pioneers,
Viking, Voyager, Magellan and Galileo. Its function in
spacecraft tracking is being taken over by newer antennas at the
Under the memorandum of understanding, the Apple Valley
Science and Technology Center will oversee telescope operations
and provide technical support to students and teachers. JPL will
continue to maintain the antenna dish, train a cadre of Apple
Valley volunteers on telescope operations and participate in
development of the interactive science curriculum.
"The research that the students will be doing is real, and
discoveries are likely," said Klein. "In addition, students will
be exposed to scientific methodology -- the way that scientists
and engineers work."
JPL manages the Deep Space Network for NASA's Office of
Space Flight, Washington, DC.