Saturn and it's moons, minus a few rogue colonies, are under the control of the Saturnine Syndicate. Long have they wanted to turn Mimas into a communication, technology, and data hub. But I've run into a problem: I don't honestly know if a massive satellite dish on Mimas (taking up the Hetrschels crater) would have any use.

My question is: Is there any practical use for a large satellite dish on Mimas? Or would it be better to not use a massive satellite dish, another location is better, etc.

Note: Yes, Mimas would really look like the Death Star with this satellite dish. Which would be a funny reference in my mind.

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by 'In warlords Saturn and it's moons, minus a few rogue colonies, are under the control of the Saturnine Syndicate.' Is 'warlords' some sort of Sci-Fi IP? If so, link so we have the background information. Not everyone is up to date on video games/amine/whatever. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Aug 27 '18 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion it's my own project and the initial Google doc will probably never be posted because I keep rewriting things. I have set up a chat for anyone that wants to discuss warlords. $\endgroup$ – Celestial Dragon Emperor Aug 27 '18 at 0:33

So, there are sort of two answers to this.

Answer number one is that this has already been done on earth, although not QUITE to the scale you're envisioning. Telescopes in general have better resolution and performance based on the diameter of the viewing aperture (either the recieving dish for radio telescopes, or the lens for an optical telescope).

The Arecibo Observatory is built in a sinkhole, rather than an impact crater, but in the 1960s it was cutting edge for radio telescopy. China has since built an even bigger one, although Arecibo still wins in my book because they have space cats!.

So, there are absolutely good reasons to build a Really Huge Dish in an impact crater.

Now, that said, those reasons have mostly been superseded by the introduction of high speed data transfer abilities allowing a technique called Aperture Syntheisis. Instead of buliding a dish 500m across, you can get the same effect by building two smaller dishes 500m apart from each other. If you're thinking of building a dish on Saturn in the first place, whatever result you're looking for is going to be met far more effectively by putting a constellation of smaller dishes in orbit AROUND Saturn. A dozen networked telescopes in geosynchronous orbit around Saturn would give you an effective dish size of almost 200,000 km, if I have my math right.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it could be used for large data transfers or maybe interplanetary ones? $\endgroup$ – Celestial Dragon Emperor Aug 26 '18 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Celestial Dragon Emperor Maybe. You'd have to find a purpose for which Aperture Synthesis isn't effective for some reason. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 26 '18 at 14:40

Using a crater for building a satellite dish has a big disadvantage: you cannot choose where to point it, and moreover wherever you are point in the sky is moving following the rotation of the planet, so you can have a window of few seconds of link with any other transmitting station.

This is for example what happened for the notorius Wow signal

The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope in the United States, then used to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The signal appeared to come from the constellation Sagittarius and bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin.

The entire signal sequence lasted for the full 72-second window during which Big Ear was able to observe it, but has not been detected since, despite several subsequent attempts by Ehman and others.

If this short window can be unpractical for astronomical observation, it also makes the use of the dish for two way communication practically impossible.

Unless, of course, you have the following conditions satisfied all together:

  • your celestial body and its companion are mutually tidally locked
  • the location of the crater faces the other body of the pair
  • you have a suitable location for building a transmitter/receiver on the other body.

In this case you can build a radio connection between the two bodies.


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