A radio telescope is used to detect radio emissions. These emissions may come from artificial satellites or from natural objects in the sky. They bring the emission to a focus, then amplify it, allowing for other instruments to analyze what has been received.
Here are the pros and cons of radio telescopes to think about.
List of the Pros of Radio Telescopes
1. They expand our research options.
Unlike other telescopes, radio telescopes are not blocked by celestial dust or debris. They can go through these materials without being reflected or absorbed. That allows researchers to “see” what is happening within a dust cloud, a gas giant, or similar object.
2. We can research more of our universe.
Our universe is primarily composed of hydrogen. In the vastness of space, the cold temperatures make it impossible for hydrogen to emit within the visible spectrum. It does, however, emit in the radio spectrum. Radio telescopes allow us to examine these emissions to learn more about the universe.
3. They can operate continuously.
Radio telescopes can work in virtually any condition. They operate in daylight or at night. They can operate in virtually any type of weather. That means research doesn’t have to stop just because the Earth has rotated or a storm has come in.
List of the Cons of Radio Telescopes
1. There are limited areas to construct new radio telescopes.
Many of our forms of communication are based on radio waves. Televisions, phones, radio stations, and satellites all send information through the radio spectrum. That means a radio telescope must be built in an area with virtually no human population centers to be usable. Most radio telescopes are built in the desert.
2. They have a complex construction.
Radio telescopes are actually composed of several dozen large, precise antennas instead of a single telescope option. This is necessary because the radio signals they detect are very low in energy. That means an array can demand a lot of land space to be operational.
3. The main dish cannot be steered.
To move the point of reception, the receiver must be moved instead of the dish. That requires a radio telescope to have a spherical design.
These radio telescope pros and cons show us that this technology has helped us to explore our universe. The advantages don’t come without a cost, however, but they can be easily managed in most circumstances.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.