In the summer of 2012, the Aerospace Engineering and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science (AOSS) departments in the College of Engineering inherited the Peach Mountain Observatory from the Astronomy department in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. During the 2014 Aerospace Engineering centennial celebration, over 125 alumni and guests participated in a special tour of this radio telescope, once the second largest steerable radio telescope in the world.
Aerospace has begun the process of renovating the 54-year-old 90-foot telescope by clearing out the antenna control room, but there’s still a lot of work to do. We have a vision for refurbishing the control room and replacing the antennas used to sense stars. After the upgrades, aerospace associate professor James Cutler says the telescope could begin picking up communications from current satellites, such as MarCO or other missions going into deep space. The radio telescope can discern signals hundreds of times better than the amateur antennas. “It’s a huge improvement,” said Cutler. With the telescope’s sharper hearing, he anticipates sending satellites further afield for exploratory missions – perhaps “to the moon, to Mars, and beyond.”