Scientists seem to be focused on extraterrestrial mobile phone service recently, first planning for them on the moon and now claiming the ability to detect a cellular call on Jupiter. This half billion mile range is made possible by upgrading their Very Large Array radio telescope to handle digital data streams.
The improved array, brilliantly named the Expanded Very Large Array, is now halfway done and well on its way to completion in 2012. Each of the 28 dish antennas will eventually be able to collect eight simultaneous two gigahertz streams, giving the facility ten times greater power than before. The EVLA will be used to study star formation, supernovae, and black holes. Though the price is a cool $94 million, that’s less than the cost of 190 neat wristwatches.