PROGRAM DESCRIPTION. RADAR OBSERVATIONS OF THE PLANETS
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH LEXINGTON LINCOLN LAB
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An approach to the construction of a radar employing the 120-foot Haystack antenna at a wavelength of approximately 4 cm., a transmitter capable of producing 500 Kw of average power, and a maser preamplifier for the receiver is described. The system is expected to have a threshold signal-to-noise in a 1 - cps filter of 355 decibels. Extended integration can increase this factor by about 10 decibels. This radar performance will permit measurements on the inner planets of the solar system throughout their orbital period. Measurements on Jupiter can also be attempted, and a possible detection of Saturn is implied. Experiments exploiting this performance are described, including the conduct of a 4th test of general relativity, the precision determination of the orbits of the inner planets, a measurement of the astronomical unit with increased accuracy, better determination of planetary masses and radii, and measurements on planetary surfaces. These measurements are not only of interest to astronomers and cosmologists but also of critical importance to the accurate guidance and navigation of vehicles in space. The roles played by the L-band Millstone radar tracker, and the UHF ionospheric radar in current space research are also briefly discussed.