The Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) is an outreach project, a partnership involving NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL ), the Lewis Center for Educational Research (LCER), and the Apple Valley Unified School District near the NASA Goldstone deep space communication complex. This educational program currently use s a 34 -meter antenna, DSS12, at Goldstone for classroom radio astronomy observations via the Internet. The current program utilizes DSS12 in two narrow frequency bands around S-band (2.3 GHz) and X-band (8.45 GHz), and is used by a training program involving a large number of secondary school teachers and their classrooms. To expand the program, a joint JPL/LCER project was started in mid-2006 to retrofit an additional existing 34-meter be am-waveguide antenna, D S S28, with wideband feeds and receivers to cove r the 0.5-to-14-GHz frequency bands.
The DSS28 antenna has a 34-meter diameter main reflector, a 2.54-meter subreflector, and a set of beam waveguide mirrors surrounded by a 2.43-meter tube. The antenna was designed for high power and a narrow frequency band around 7.2 GHz. The performance at the low end of the frequency band desired for the educational program would be extremely poor if the beam waveguide system was used as part of the feed system. Consequently, the 34-meter antenna was retrofitted with a tertiary offset mirror placed at the vertex of the main reflector. The tertiary mirror can be rotated to use two wideband feeds that cover the 0.5-to-14-GHz band.
The earlier designs for both GAVRT and the DSN only used narrow band feeds and consequently, only covered a small part of the S- and X-band frequencies. By using both a wideband feed and wideband amplifiers, the entire band from 0.5 to 14 GHz is covered, expanding significantly the science activities that can be studied using this system.