This fall senior Peter Lee built his own radio telescope in Projects in Science and Technology. Repurposed from an old satellite TV dish, the telescope can pick up radio frequencies from space and then convert them into a format Lee can both visualize and analyze.
“While you are probably familiar with human-made radio signals on Earth — think AM and FM radio — many astronomical objects also emit radio frequencies,” said Troy Lanier, Lee’s science instructor. “For the antenna, Lee added various electronics and software to the old satellite that amplified and filtered out certain frequencies of interest.
“For example, hydrogen in the sun emits a signature radio frequency,” Lanier added. “So by pointing the dish at the sun and then isolating this particular frequency on the feed from his antenna, he is attempting to detect the so-called ‘hydrogen line’ in the sun.”
For his next project, Lee will attempt to detect the Milky Way as it crosses overhead, which can be performed in the daytime since radio frequencies vary from visible light frequencies.
Lanier said he has been impressed with Lee’s willingness to take on projects with no definitive roadmap. Last year, while enrolled in Electronics and Robotics, he built a scale model of a self-driving Tesla truck. “He attached ultrasonic sensors, tweaked algorithms, 3-D printed the body, and created circuits for the headlights and taillights,” Lanier said.
“What’s wonderful about this current project is that Peter has brought together knowledge from multiple St. Stephen’s sources, including the Electronics and Robotics class, Danielle Horton’s Engineering Club and Frank Mikan’s Astrophysics class,” Lanier said.
Lee will continue to build on this knowledge in college, where he plans to study computer science and computer engineering.