by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research, Princeton University
In its heyday, the towering metal satellite dish located about three miles from the Jersey Shore’s boardwalks hosted its share of historical moments: It tracked the flights of some of America’s first space launches, and in 1960 it collected the first images beamed to Earth from an orbiting weather satellite. The feat was considered so amazing that the photos were rushed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ushering in the era of modern weather forecasting.
After a decade of scanning the skies, however, the dish fell into disuse and became immobilized by rust while weeds grew up around the base and wasps nested in its crevices. There it sat until four years ago when two Princeton University scientists set out to restore the dish as a way to bring students — both from the University and local communities — closer to outer space.