A radio telescope is an excellent teaching tool because it involves the combined technologies of microwave engineering and digital computing. Its use involves astronomy, digital signal processing, software development, and analysis.
The UMass Lowell radio telescope needs substantial renovation. It was designed and built by MIT’s Haystack Observatory as a prototype for its long-running Small Radio Telescope (SRT) project. SRT consists of a 2.3-meter diameter, steerable dish antennae feeding a sensitive receiver/amplifier. The signal is then acquired by a computer and analyzed with digital signal processing software. The SRT frequency range is 1370-1800 MHz, ideal for studying the sun, exploring galactic structure and dynamics and capable of detecting exotic astronomical sources such as supernova remnants and pulsars.
Past projects have included mapping the rotation curve of the Milky Way galaxy via the 21-cm hydrogen line radiation.