Answer: what does radio astronomy offer to society?

Like for every science, also radio astronomical results and techniques serve the progress of other sciences in particular and mankind in general. We may mention:

  • the development of very-low-noise-receivers (with wide applications), in a large frequency range, with system temperatures as low as 10 Kelvin.
  • the study of the thermography of the body by use of millimetre radio techniques (~45 GHz).
  • The detection of cancer at centimeter wavelengths (~10 GHz) with modern radiometers and, shortly, using a method of mini-aperture synthesis techniques (interferometric triangulation).
  • Computerised X-ray tomography techniques employ methods originally developed for mapping radio sources.
  • The detection of forest fires by their microwave radiation.
  • The development of radio sextants for aeronautical and marine navigation, allowing accurate determinations of positions at sea even on overcast and rainy days.
  • The forecasting of earthquakes by Very-Long-Baseline-Interferometric (VLBI) measurements of fault motion by a determination of the apparent positions of small radio sources.
  • The determination of many geophysical parameters such as continental drift, polar wandering, latitude measurements, and variation in the earth’s rotation, with the use of connected elements and VLBI techniques.
  • The experimental verification of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity using radio interferometry.
  • Testing theories of the origin of the Universe by observing the 3 K background radiation apparently coming from the primeval fireball, the Big Bang.
  • Measuring the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and the distribution of water vapour and impurities such as carbon monoxide by passive, remote-sensing techniques.
  • Monitoring of weather by using radiometers.
  • Use radio astronomy observations at mm-wavelengths to survey the Ozone layer and environmental pollution.
  • Training of people going to all kinds of positions in daily life.

Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies