National Radio Astronomy Observatory Day 1

Have you ever wondered when the first stars in our universe came to be? Engineers and scientists have pondered this question, among other related questions, about our universe. Many projects have focused on finding the time when the first stars formed, but only rough estimates can be made from the observations so far. Based on the technology of other tests that have been done, we are developing a new instrument to tackle this challenge.

D.A.R.E., which stands for Dark Ages Radio Explorer, is a satellite that will orbit the moon and collect the radio waves from the early universe. The reason that this specific project will (hopefully!) produce better data than all the preceding ones is that the instrument is shielded by the moon from any other electromagnetic radiation emission from human technology that drastically changes the spectrum that is collected.

There are many engineers and scientist that are involved with the development of this scientific instrument. There is collaboration between Colorado University, Arizona State University, JPL, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and others on the building of a prototype of the scientific payload.

Rich Bradley (NRAO/UVA) has just completed building a prototype of the antenna that collects the electromagnetic radiation. We traveled to Green Bank, West Virginia for the first wave of testing of the new instrument February 15, 2012. At the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, we are hoping to collect useful data that shows the power that the instrument has and the depth of knowledge that it will provide the scientific community.