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Space technology: Sharper `eyes¿¿ for star gazers: A new submillimeter-wavelength radio receiver will allow astronomers to probe more deeply into the evolution of our galaxy

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The radio astronomy receiver built at the European Space Research and Technology Center allows astronomers to study intergalactic molecules that emit radio signals of submillimeter wavelength. The receiver is basically a heterodyne frequency analyzer for detecting weak microwave signals of about 10-20 W at 200 GHz to 400 GHz. Incoming signals are mixed with the signal from a local oscillator and downconverted to a lower frequency that can be amplified with low noise. The amplified signal is fed to a spectrometer, a bank of filters, and a minicomputer that yield the power spectra of received signals.

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IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 8 )