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Weather Radar Goes Miniature

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the button-up-your-overcoat dept.

Science 167

quackking writes "As reported today in the Boston Globe, the NSF has committed at least $17M to build out a new network of miniature (at least in comparison with today's monsters) weather radars. This is to radar what Beowulf clusters are to the mainframe; the scientists at U Mass Amherst project that eventually a weather radar node will be deployable for under $20K! Now to figure out how to get real-time access to this mesh of sensors and create a really cool screensaver..."

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167 comments

I saw this development coming (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7095948)

On the new Doppler 7 million, available only on your ABC 7!

Re:I saw this development coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096203)

Must be a Michigander.

obligatory... (-1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7095951)

but can you build a beowulf clust....oh wait...

oh my god... (0, Funny)

cdsparrow (658739) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095957)

here come the beowulf cluster jokes...

Re:oh my god... (1)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095995)

yeah, But will they run linux?

Re:oh my god... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096043)

You assmaster, get it right:

"Will it run Lunix ?
Please show the emulation chain to do so..."

(s core: -1, no fucking reason) that's real nice.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096201)

Come and see the violence inherent in the system!
Come and see the violence inherent in the system!
Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

Re:oh my god... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7095999)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these jokes!

Links to Jokes are all around us! [zdnet.com]

It had to be said! (0, Redundant)

aaronvegh (546815) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095966)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things?


Oh man, I kill me.

Re:It had to be said! (-1, Offtopic)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096271)

Oh man, I kill me.

If only.

Re:It had to be said! (2, Insightful)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096490)

Oh man, I kill me.

Well, somebody should.

Super! (0, Troll)

Deltan (217782) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095967)

Maybe now when they call for sun it won't rain instead?

Re:Super! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096209)

Maybe now when they call for Sun, Sun will actually have a plan for Linux - even if it's putting Linux into weather radar nodes.

I CAN SEE TEH SPOKE ON LOCAL RADAR NOW! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7095968)

OMG OMG this greased yoda doll is fucking uncomfortable.

Re:I CAN SEE TEH SPOKE ON LOCAL RADAR NOW! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096018)

ROFL

Re:I CAN SEE TEH SPOKE ON LOCAL RADAR NOW! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096082)

Where can I get a Linux version of Halo so I can play it on my hacked X-box?

kthx!

(I can see the spoke [goatse.cx] from here! (Guess where the "Halo" iz!))

Imagine... (0, Redundant)

Moryath (553296) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095972)

A Beowulf cluster of...

hey, wait a second.

Okay -- how about a Beowulf cluster of the new 64-bit Macs, used to monitor all these sensors in realtime and spit out tons of statistical data based on them (and maybe even generate a nice 3-D map of the landscape to view it on in realtime)?

I'm just sayin' is all.

This lame joke brought to you by the Coalition to Bring Back Beowulf Cluster Jokes.

Heh... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7095977)

I, for one, welcome our new miniature weather radar systems.

Re:Heh... (1)

greechneb (574646) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096469)

I have to wonder (Not being familiar with radar entirely, will this cause problems with interference, having this many active radar systems going? Just asking out of curiousity.

Re:Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096487)

The article is not clear, but it sounds like they may be using a new radar technology called Phased Array. It works like doppler, except that instead of the mechanical motor needed to move the dish to scan the area, it scans the area electronically, completing an entire scan in one minute to Doppler's 5 minutes or 8 minutes.

Another benefit of phased radar array is that the scanning speed can be upgraded with better computer equipment with higher bandwidth and number crunching capabilities.

Re:Heh... (1)

The_Wizard_-P (692787) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096479)

And now to test my new perl script for auto posting "I, for one, welcome our new" $Subject

Can you... (0, Redundant)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 9 years ago | (#7095991)

Can you imagine a beow... aw, crap! He already stole the joke!

Re:Can you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096357)

Yet it doesn't seem to stop the morons from trying anyway.

Weather Sensor Array (5, Interesting)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096003)

I've always thought that wide-spread weather research could be enhanced in an even lower-cost fashion. If basic sensor arrays (wind speed / direction, humidity, temperature, pressure, and whatever else you can fit in there) powered by solar panels could be deployed for less than $200 per station, you could litter the nation with them spaced out every couple of miles in a grid. Then, have them all phone home (they could repeat their own traffic to reduce reliance on other networks) to a high-powered computer (or via a distributed network, a la SETI@home) to determine weather patterns.

Granted, low cost radars like this are a step towards getting high-resolution data for more areas, but something like what I've described could possibly help answer larger climate-related questions.

Re:Weather Sensor Array (4, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096117)

That's a great idea - but what about adding RFID sensors and face-recognition technology?

Sincerely,
John Ashcroft

Re:Weather Sensor Array (5, Informative)

Sevn (12012) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096134)

Wow, pretty insightful considering that's basically what's already happening. :) Although the reporting stations aren't every mile. That would be kinda overkill I think. When I was a weatherman (10 year ago), there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 550-600 reporting stations that did hourly weather observations syncronized with ZULU time, aka UTC, aka GMT. Some weather reporting stations are completely automated, but they are limited. There are some things like skycover and accurately representing highly variable conditions that an automated weather station simply can't do. Other than the hourly observations that are taken and disseminated, there are "special" observations that are taken when special conditions are met. I don't have an FMH-B handy, and I can't recall them all off the top of my head, but it's for things like radical changes in wind direction, speed, ceiling height, visibility, thunderstorm activity, etc. Most weather reporting stations are near airports because weather is very important for forcasting flight weather condition. That and a majority of weather stations are USAF or other military. All that data ends up in a system called AWDS (Automated Weather Distribution System) that has 3 super computing "hubs". If I'm not mistaken, two of them are here in the US, and one is in England. Those numbers are then turned into NGM's and GSM's and other Nested Gridded Models that are still not perfect and need corrected slightly by a good forecaster. With that data the 6 hourly forecasts are generated and issued so that local TV Weatherman can steal them and use them. I can remember one time in Deleware, we intentionally put a forecasted high temp for the day 6 degrees too high and watched 3 of the local channels quote it.

Re:Weather Sensor Array (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096464)

I can remember one time in Deleware, we intentionally put a forecasted high temp for the day 6 degrees too high and watched 3 of the local channels quote it.

Now we know.
Global warming is an artifact of weather service jokes.

Re:Weather Sensor Array (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096147)

It would be nice to space them like that, but I think two projects are in order. A low-resolution project, dumping them all over the globe, and high-resolution projects for areas of particular interest. In a particular area you might have them every quarter mile, and some places you might only have them... well, where's convenient to put them? I'd think you'd want to cover whole ridgelines but the faces of the mountain are not important, for example.

I also think they should have GPS in them, so if they're moving, they can report accurately. This will let you put them on ships, buoys (tidal variation) and so on. Those GPS MOUSE usb gps devices are going for like fifty bucks on ebay, so how much can it cost to build them? Ten bucks? Twenty maybe? Well worth it in either case.

Re:Weather Sensor Array (3, Informative)

91stst (610832) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096233)

This is already being done, at the moment not all states participating have made the data accessible. Here are a few that have.

Oklahome Mesonet [ou.edu]

West Texas Mesonet [ttu.edu]

MesoWest [utah.edu]

Note: The Texas Mesonets are particularly interesting during landfall of tropical cyclones!

A little math (2, Informative)

Atario (673917) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096265)

$17M divided by $20K = 850 sensors. Area of US is 9,629,091 sq km (according to the CIA [cia.gov] ). That's 7,578,834 sq mi. That's one sensor per 8,916 sq mi (11,328 sq km). That's just over the area of New Jersey.

Now, the sensors you propose, at $200 each, could get you 85,000 sensors for $17M. That's one sensor per 892 sq mi -- a bit smaller than Ocean County, NJ.

Not quite "every couple of miles", but not too bad. Still, I'd have to think the radar might return more data points anyway, sweeping across the landscape as they do. Plus, it couldn't cost much to add a package of temp/humidity/wind/etc. to each radar, which, while not 85,000 locations, wouldn't be bad either. And I'd have to guess those radars can cover at least a New Jersey each.

Re:Weather Sensor Array (1)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096367)

Well, it'd be NICE to do it for under $200, but as of right now, it's not QUITE possible

You can setup a Moderately accurate temp and wind station for $79, BUT the temp sensor is enclosed (NOT vented), so it tends to read high, and you need a computer

Look at AAG Electronics [aagelectronica.com]

Adding humidity (which adds a more accurate thermometer), Pressure, and rain adds about $150

There IS quite a network in North America, with SOME holes in it - look at NOAA's Mesonet [noaa.gov]

Re:Weather Sensor Array (1)

wondergeek (220755) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096447)

Take your sensor grid, scale it down to nano size, space it much, much more closely (i.e. every few centimeters in open air), have it capture electromagnetic spectrum data in addition to the weather stuff, and make it scan the surrounding area with radar / ultrasound and what do you have?

I believe you have the way that post-humans will interact with the outside world when they choose to. Want to travel to Tokyo? Just start sampling the sensor grid there to and use it to drive your sensory inputs.

Of course we may decided that sampling the real world is not of much value (other than scientifically) once we have progressed to that stage. Who knows? Maybe Ray?

Imagine (1, Funny)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096004)

not having loads of Beowulf jokes for once?

Penisbird from GNAA goes miniture (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096006)

L0L0L0L0L! DEBIAN IS 0BS0LETE! L0L0L0L!

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096007)

*dont* welcome our new bewoulf cluster of soviet radars.

What did I miss?

Thanks for the metaphor. (1)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096008)

This is to radar what Beowulf clusters are to the mainframe

It's so clear now!

bad karma day (2, Funny)

Mulletproof (513805) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096017)

"to build out a new network of miniature (at least in comparison with today's monsters) weather radars"

But can you mod linux onto it? Failing that; In Soviet Russia, the weather radar miniturizes YOU.

Don't we already have the equivalent? (-1, Flamebait)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096026)

Go to Weather.com [weather.com] and type in your zip code, then from there click map in motion. Voila. They offer satelite, doppler, and forcasting.

Save some money and use what's out there.

You're a fucking champ. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096047)

Re:You're a fucking champ. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096085)

Hey, he's a Sooner (codeword for Okie).

Cut him some slack - they *just* figured out this exists (and plan to stop wearing parachute pants next week).

Re:You're a fucking champ. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096113)

A whatnow?

Re:Don't we already have the equivalent? (1)

qaffle (264280) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096071)

The article's not on getting reports for specific locations, it's about getting more accurate readings for those specific locations. Subtle but important difference.

Re:Don't we already have the equivalent? (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096293)

Yes, but the readouts that produce that data are from thousands of points already existing in the country. I have taken a few metrology classes (they are a hell of a lot harder than you'd think) and our read out data on millibars, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction comes from predetermined points with installed sensors in thousands of different places.

I guess my thought is combining what we already have in the sensors and using the Doppler radar already available throughout the country, this is unnecessary in my opinion.

(To the AC, lol you must be a UT fan with an inferiority complex, and yes you do suck!)

Re:Don't we already have the equivalent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096417)

...a whatnow?

Re:Don't we already have the equivalent? (2, Interesting)

paul_pick1 (540613) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096295)

Don't we already have the equivalent?

Well, no, and that's the point. Current radar installations are huge and expensive. As a consequence, they are spread out hundreds of miles apart 'cause we can only afford a few. The coverage that they provide is really not all that great because radar only sees by reflecting off objects. Whatever is behind that object is invisible (in this case; object == cloud). With these smaller radars every 20 miles, the number of potential blind spots drops dramatically.

Additionally, these smaller radars can see closer to the ground and provide higher resolution data than their larger counterparts. All good stuff for the met community.

Re:Don't we already have the equivalent? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096497)

Also, past 25 miles or so the big Doppler beam reaches the horizon and zips higher and higher up. More stations would fill in the low-level gaps.

Not in Boulder, CO (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096346)

They've been using the same stock image for Boulder since 1975. That's because the weather never actually changes here. Even when it's "raining" the cloud cover is too thin for radar to actually pick up. The replaced the weather radar with a cardboard mock-up years ago and no one's ever noticed.

Be your own weatherman? (1)

Merlinium (678576) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096030)

Does this mean the public can get access to the Data? Yeah a Nice screen saver would be Awesome if you had realtime updated weather info, just a glance and see if you need a umbrella or not today, taken a step further, the smart house can now tell you what the hell is going on outside your house for the rest of the day or week. Maybe next step would be to route out stupid people sensor network, then you can plan your trips to avoid not only bad weather but dumb areas as well.

Re:Be your own weatherman? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096198)

You can put up all the radar stations you want, and it's not going to help you predict the weather any better than they already do; i.e., about as well as you could just by making up the forecast with no data at all.

Re:Be your own weatherman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096389)

I don't know why you'd want the raw data. If you just want a data image, check your local TV station or accuweather.com. If you really want to be an armchair weather forcaster, try this [uow.edu.au] . It does make a nice screen saver and the antenna looks pretty cool.

DANK nuggets (0)

yddeh (621022) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096034)

at Umass Amherst ; )

MOD THEM DOWN (2, Insightful)

axxackall (579006) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096037)

Oh, God! 10 comments and ALL 10 are silly jokes about Beowulf clusters. If we need a Beowulf cluster then that would be to scan /. traffic and filter such stupid jokes out.

Can we at least install on /. some neural-network scanners that would mod all such obsolete jokes down?

Re:MOD THEM DOWN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096065)

Hey my joke was about the greens at umass. mod me up : )

Re:MOD THEM DOWN (1)

overbyj (696078) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096104)

How about this then?

1. Install network of miniature radars
2. ????
3. Profit!

Re:MOD THEM DOWN (5, Funny)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096129)

Oh, God! 10 comments and ALL 10 are silly jokes about Beowulf clusters. If we need a Beowulf cluster then that would be to scan /. traffic and filter such stupid jokes out.

Can we at least install on /. some neural-network scanners that would mod all such obsolete jokes down?

Perhaps a perl plugin module where you can upload your own filter code to prescan the comments....
/. would probably need a cluster of some sort to run it though...

Re:MOD THEM DOWN (1)

Mad Marlin (96929) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096283)

No kidding. Just about every article posted here for about the last year or two has had at least one "beowulf cluster" joke posted by some idiot. I didn't really find it all that funny the first time I saw one, and I most definitely don't find it funny now, which is probably around the 2,000th time I've seen the same damned joke. The sad thing is, I know a lot of the people who are posting these actually think they are being funny. They're like a 5-year-old kid who keeps on telling you the same knock-knock joke twenty times a day.

Re:MOD THEM DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096626)

They're like a 5-year-old kid who keeps on telling you the same knock-knock joke twenty times a day.

And now imagine a beowulf cluster of these. Welcome to slashdot!

Availability (3, Insightful)

thedillybar (677116) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096038)

Let's hope that these resources will be widely available for research purposes and weather forecasting. I think this is a big step in understanding various weather systems, a science that is far from understood by anyone.

Not long after this is implemented, I hope to see various news agencies provide not only forecasting based on information provided from the new equipment, but raw data (and maybe not-so-raw data...like images) as well.

This could be a great resource for researchers and the slashdot crowd alike.

Re:Availability (3, Funny)

another_henry (570767) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096145)

Let's also hope that bold text becomes more publicised and widely overused by all.

Re:Availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096190)

Combining your bold statements:

Research purposes have shown that raw data on the slashdot crowd is far from understood.

And on that note, I have acquired a large collection of emily dickinson's writings.

Re:Availability (3, Informative)

Bridog (410044) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096210)

NOAA provides a great deal of information for free already --- as they are a public service anyway, this only makes sense. It may not contain the precise details that you wish to research, but you can find information about the various forms of data, including ftp-accessible satellite data, at either of the following two sites: NWS Telecommunications Operations Center [noaa.gov] , or the National Climatic Data Center [noaa.gov] .

Re:Availability (1)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096577)

These folks [robomagic.com] have a great little utility (WIndows only, but...) that sits down in your system tray and will update itself as often as you like. I've been using it for 5 or 6 years now. There's a couple for *NIX as well (for the various GUI's, I don't know about the console or OS-X).

Just thought I'd throw this out there.

beowulf (-1, Redundant)

avandesande (143899) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096045)

All your beowulf clusters belong to us.....

Re:beowulf (1)

rokka (631038) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096298)

All your beowulf clusters ARE belong to us..... God, that joke was so long ago people are forgetting how it went. Do your homework: here [slashdot.org]

Re:beowulf (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096612)

Sorry, I don't do homework anymore. Slashdot is strictly for work avoidance....

Many benefits (3, Informative)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096052)

I would imagine that the array would work quite well for several reasons.

First of all, the amount of energy you have to use to send a signal decreases with distance squared. So covering an area with with several small radar stations should keep the working signal in the relatively strong range with less power consumption.

Also, there will be a lot of overlap near the edges of the stations' zones, reducing anomolous readings through error checking. (This would have to be implemented. It wouldn't happen on its own.)

And it also opens the door for the possibility of trasmitting signals from one station to the next instead of always waiting for the ping to come back. That could allow for new methods and better results and more accuracy.

Home Brewed Radar? (2, Interesting)

moehoward (668736) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096060)

Has anyone home-brewed a radar system of any type? Is it possible? What could you do with it?

Re:Home Brewed Radar? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096188)

I would think that it would be relatively easy to do your own, though maybe it would not be powerful or especially accurate. You need to spin the radar element in a circle, and then generate a height field, plot it in a circle, and invert the image (well, it all depends on how you draw it in the first place I guess) so that the dark part is in the middle. Voila! Obviously there's a lot more to it than that but there are modules for this kind of thing so it is no longer necessary to invent it. You could also do it with laser or ultrasound.

Re:Home Brewed Radar? (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096325)

Next week on slashdot: Homemade doppler radar using only an old microwave, an 802.11 WiFi card, a pringles can, a DirecTV dish, and a Linux box (and you will be able to download the GNU/radar source code). Now *that* would be "News for Nerds"!

Re:Home Brewed Radar? (1)

moehoward (668736) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096436)

That got me thinking. Wouldn't it be funny to rig something up that LOOKED like radar on top of your house. A DirectTV dish spinning around or something. Wonder what sorts of 3 letter agencies would show up.

I'm confused about this weather project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096081)

do you mean you wish to tabliture to modal rate of the weather nodes? For that I would suggest a variable route mark device, possibly one made by Cisco. If on the other hand you want data parity bit overmode protection, you might be better off abandoning the currect setup and restructuring the network until the the packets don't interfere with the reception.

Really cool!? (4, Funny)

antic (29198) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096098)

Err, if you want a really cool screensaver, look out a window -- wind effects, sky, clouds -- all in real-time. Amazing, and not $17m!

Re:Really cool!? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096525)

I don't use Windows.

Re:Really cool!? (1)

sapped (208174) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096580)

Err, if you want a really cool screensaver, look out a window -- wind effects, sky, clouds -- all in real-time. Amazing, and not $17m!

Now imagine a window large enough to see the entire USA. All without breaking or distorting and a chair in the right position to see it all - Priceless!

SETI Allen Telescope Arrary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096101)

SETI also is deploying 1 hectare array [seti.org] with upto 1000 dishes to be finally deployed by 2005.

p2p to distribute the data (2, Insightful)

CKW (409971) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096107)

Now to figure out how to get real-time access to this mesh of sensors and create a really cool screensaver...

Hmmm, you know, p2p would be the perfect way to distribute said data among all the people who need access to it (if it was a screensaver and so popular and contained realtime feed...)

Re:p2p to distribute the data (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096319)

p2p is illegal.

I dont need to mention who is going to sue you for you know what violation.

But it would be kinda sweet to have a whole weather data system available. Kinda like weather.com

Re:p2p to distribute the data (1)

Exatron (124633) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096502)

I can never tell if people are being serious when claiming that p2p itself is illegal. It's sounds too stupid to be serious, but at the same time people are dragging human stupidity to new depths and probably believe such nonsense.

Missing the Point... (4, Interesting)

Cap'n Canuck (622106) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096130)

Beowulf jokes aside, I think the editors and other posters are missing the point here. The NSF is putting up $17M of a total of $40M, the rest to be made up from private industries (like Raytheon) and public institutions. That's like, I don't know, less than half.

With the private companies coming on, you can bet that there's more than just weather radar applications, though that's not a bad place to start. Still, you've got to wonder why Raytheon would pump $5M into it if there wasn't something in it for them...

Re:Missing the Point... (1)

overbyj (696078) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096155)

Doesn't Raytheon make the Patriot Missile? Maybe this is a new missile warning detection system that Raytheon is doubling as a weather thingy.

Re:Missing the Point... (1)

TnkMkr (666446) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096224)

Raytheon makes numerous missile systems, and of course the targeting systems that go with them.

They are currently working on a missle system called claws. The system is an air defence system and ideally deployed from the back of 2 HMMWV's one to carry the missle system and one to carry a small radar/guidence system.... hmmmmm

Re:Missing the Point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096340)

Rytheon is a huge government contractor that does all sorts [polar.org] of things. Don't read to much into this.

Re:Missing the Point... (2, Interesting)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096420)

you've got to wonder why Raytheon would pump $5M into it if there wasn't something in it for them...

Raytheon makes the most radar systems in the U.S.. They make most of the radar systems in boats and in the planes you fly in as well as those at the airport. Who else would you want to make them?

I'm not sure Raytheon could make radars that do more than track weather for ultra-cheap (relatively). Radars are very specifically designed for different purposes. It would involve some heavy software reliance and versatility to make a weather/aircraft/slashdot user tracking radar. I say this as an engineer that works for them.

It certainly wouldn't be worth their money unless there was government funding behind it or there was the potential for vast investment from the military. I don't really see that here. It would, however, be worth the money to be responsible for/own a national weather tracking system.

biological attack? (2, Insightful)

Porthwhanker (708730) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096159)

If successful, the new technology could also be used to track the low-level winds that could carry a biological, chemical, or radiological attack.

What's the point if the system can't detect the biological/chemical element in question? Even if they knew where the element was released, and they could track the low-level winds, I doubt they could accurately predict how it would disperse. Even with more accurate & detailed data, the weather is a very chaotic and unpredictable system. But at least we'll be able to detect weather patterns missed by current technologies, so it's a good step forward.

Using Phased Array Radar? (4, Informative)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096161)

The article is not clear, but it sounds like they may be using a new radar technology called Phased Array. It works like doppler, except that instead of the mechanical motor needed to move the dish to scan the area, it scans the area electronically, completing an entire scan in one minute to Doppler's 5 minutes or 8 minutes.

Another benefit of phased radar array is that the scanning speed can be upgraded with better computer equipment with higher bandwidth and number crunching capabilities.

-Cyc

Re:Using Phased Array Radar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7096330)

Phased Arrays are not a new technology (they have been in use in defense apps for about 25 years) but their use in weather radars is probably new. You are right that they steer the beam electronically (phase shifters) instead of mechanically, but it's a bit misleading to refer to dish radars as "Doppler"; I assure you the Phased Array radars utilize the Doppler effect in the same way as the dish radars.

UNATCO (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096162)

Does UNATCO know about this?

array makeup question (2, Insightful)

Weird_one (86883) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096205)

hey, a question for those with more knowledge than me.

Would it be possible to have the individual nodes of the array be cell phone towers using the existing signals they are constantly transmitting for use in radar imaging. I understand the wavelength is different, but would cell phone length waves still interfere enough to return a proper reading?

just a thought of using a existing setup for data.

Evil uses- (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096227)

Wont a mass cluster of radars actually heat up the atmostphere and thus change the weather and fry pigeons? Also what if some evil mastermind went around focusing each node on one spot in the sky and at the right moment fired them off to either shoot down planes or make some sort of inter-dimensional time warp that would lead to a shoot-em-up style 3d game plotline?

Cell Phone Tower Infastructure (1)

Zlorfik (199901) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096228)

It would be great to give those eyesores an additional purpose.

Cool screensavers (-1, Offtopic)

DigitalDragon (194314) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096260)

I know this is really offtopic, but please be patient and don't mod me down. I was just wondering if ppl could post links to their favorite screensavers with this thread. I got very much tired of mine, and most of the ones I download are not good or contain spyware.

Thanks. Post away.

A bit of common sense (-1, Troll)

ArmenTanzarian (210418) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096262)

Why don't they try to get the weather right before they make the way we get it smaller?

Parasitic radar (3, Interesting)

XNormal (8617) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096380)

I've heard of radars that receive at a different location from that where the signal is transmitted. Such radars are known as a bistatic radars. Some of them even use existing existing radiation sources such as TV stations.

I wonder if it's practical for a network of weather radars. A receive-only radar should be cheaper and have less regulatory hurdles to jump.

Re:Parasitic radar (1)

anubi (640541) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096615)

"Bistatic radars" are cool, aren't they?

Completely covert.

If you want an example of one working, just connect rabbit ears to your TV. Tune in a local station, and walk around the room. Note your presence and location in the room has an effect on the image on the screen, and by standing in certain locations, you can often disrupt the beam so badly the set barely receives a usable signal at all.

I have seen this same technique used for detecting the presence of people in stores after closing. The thing worked by looking at the frame sync pulses of a local TV station, and correlating the video signal against itself to detect the presence of "alternate paths" resulting from signal bounce from other sources. These delayed signals, ( commonly observed as "ghosts" on a display ) gave us a clue as to what reflective surfaces (RF) existed in the vicinity, but more importantly, if any of them were moving around.

A little bit of signal processing and it became clear as blazes if anything was moving arond in the store.

Unfortunately, other things, such as airplanes flying overhead, could spoof it. So, an array of sensors using multiple detection technologies was used, so it took a consensus of sensor reports to trip off an alert to the investigative authorities.

Beowulf (1)

kamukwam (652361) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096461)

I guess the fact that the newspost speaks about Beowulf clusters, was only put there to make all those beowulf cluster jokes on topic!

Beowulf cluster (-1)

mesmartyoudumb (471890) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096508)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of t.......er wait.

seriously, this is great for UFO watching (1)

asscroft (610290) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096546)

Everytime there is something strange like the phoenix lights, the shuttle crash, and mysterious plane crashes, the weather radar becomes a very interesting resouce. In some cases, it has been reported that the radar is mysteriously not available. It's taken, and then re-released back to people with the right permissions to see it.

New Mexico has flight radar, I don't know what the difference is, but either way, enabling radar in a backyard size package is interesting to say the least.

Do it with wireless networks? (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096560)

It just occured to me that 802.11 IIRC runs on a similear frequency to weather radar (at least those that are running on 2.4 GHz). Could you build a 802.11(letter) station with an ultra sensitive reciever, and while transmitting, look for echo returns and figgure out distance, and from there extrapulate some data. Obviously you would need some triangelation with other nearby stations to figgure out where things are (the antennas are not directional or moving so you would just get a return "there is something x miles away), but that can be done any a computer elsewhere. I'm not sure if technology is up to recievers that can seperate the data at that low of level, but it would be really cool to have a few basestations that also told me something about the weather.

More Small Tech... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096566)

Well, now we know one more thing to be included in future "Ultimate Geek Cars".

Say goodbye to stealth technology (1)

lobsterGun (415085) | more than 9 years ago | (#7096609)

If this goes worldwide it will have a serious impact on stealth technology.

Think about it for a second.

Stealth planes rely on their low radar cross section. With a gigantic weather array broadcasting a signal from all possible angles at least one of those dishes is going to catch that stealth aircraft on its wide side.

Detecting the plane will just be a matter of looking for the anomolies.
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