This massive, steerable parabolic dish, which in 1957 tracked the ascent of the rocket that launched Sputnik I into space and is sensitive enough to pick up a cellphone call from the surface of Mars, may soon be out of the astronomy business. The dark clouds in the picture that hover over the Lovell Radio Telescope, located at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, in England, are apropos. Government funding for a program that would keep the telescope peering into the heavens may soon be slashed. Lovell is a protected landmark, so it won’t be torn down. Instead, the dish could be repurposed as a giant movie screen, displaying stars of a different sort than those for which it was originally designed.
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