'Milky Way Explorer' software gets new Solar System installment

September 29, 2014, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
NRAO's Milky Way Explorer Tours the Solar System

Imagine seeing the Sun, planets, and a myriad other objects in our Solar System as you have never seen them before – in invisible radio light! That is the experience you will get through the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's (NRAO) newly released Solar System installment of its popular Milky Way Explorer, an online tour of our interstellar neighborhood guided by the actual astronomers who explore it using radio waves.

Through an entertaining and informative series of videos, NRAO's Science Visualization Team presents multimedia-rich tours of the radio Sun as well as many of the planets, moons, and asteroids that orbit it. At each stop along the way, planetary radio astronomers reveal the new science and exciting details we have learned about our Solar System neighbors through the use of .

Unlike familiar optical telescopes, which can only study objects illuminated by our Sun and other stars, radio telescopes can see the otherwise invisible cold, dark features in space. This includes the faint radio light that is naturally emitted by the molecules and chemicals that make up the atmospheres of planets and certain moons in our Solar System.

Radio dishes, when paired with powerful radar transmitters on Earth, can also reveal hidden landscapes, such as the Moon's dust-layered surface and Venus's alien features shrouded behind its thick clouds.

The Milky Way Explorer, which was launched in 2013, also includes dozens more videos showcasing the diverse radio astronomy studies of our spiral island of stars, stellar nurseries, and dark matter. A third set of interviews and animations is scheduled for 2015 to share more discoveries made inside our Galaxy and among the nearest neighboring galaxies of our Universe.

Explore further: Looking at Jupiter's radio frequencies

Related Stories

Looking at Jupiter's radio frequencies

September 10, 2014

In the visible spectrum, Jupiter is a bright, star-like point in the night sky. Viewing it with the naked eye, it would be easy to confuse it with a star except for the fact that it doesn't twinkle. At radio frequencies ...

DRAGNs in the sky

September 9, 2014

A radio galaxy is a galaxy that emits large amounts of radio waves. They were first discovered in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1960s when a technique known as aperture synthesis was developed that we could resolve the ...

Electron beams and radio signals from the surface of the Sun

November 15, 2013

The sun emits light, but it also emits particle beams. A scientist at the Swedish Insitute of Space Physics (IRF) in Uppsala has revealed how these beams generate radio waves. These radio waves can tell us about the outer ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.