The GBT measures radio waves from throughout the universe, but due to the telescope’s extreme sensitivity, any operating wireless device can have a negative effect on its observations. But to the people who live in the NRQZ, the restrictions and the quiet, peaceful life that comes with them are welcome.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC reports because of its vast size and sophisticated design, the GBT is exquisitely sensitive to even the faintest radio pulses coming from space. For the same reason, it is also extremely susceptible to electronic interference. Any device that generates electromagnetic radiation—a cell phone, a television, a wireless Internet router—can skew its data. And so the people who live in these parts must, by law, forego some of the gadgets that most of us take for granted
Those restrictions began in the 1950s, when the Federal Communications Commission created the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile swath of sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Use of the airwaves inside the zone is strictly regulated to ensure that the high-tech telescopes at Green Bank and nearby Sugar Grove can operate with minimal disturbance