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Very Large Array Gets Expanded Capability

pickens (49171) writes | more than 6 years ago

Space 0

Active Seti writes "The National Science Foundation (NSF) is in the process of transforming its Very Large Array radio telescope into the Expanded Very Large Array, Half of the Very Large Array's (VLA) 28 dish antennas — each weighing 230 tons — have already been upgraded with the rest to go digital by 2012. The EVLA will be 10 times more sensitive, cover more frequencies, and provide far greater analysis capabilities than the current VLA. A new, state-of-the-art correlator — a special-purpose supercomputer — is also being built to handle the increased data flow, providing vastly expanded capabilities for analyzing data to gain scientific insight about astronomical objects. After the upgrade, the EVLA's receiving system will be sensitive enough to detect the weak radio transmission from a cell phone at the distance of Jupiter — half a billion miles away — at a projected cost of $94 million. "We're leapfrogging several generations of technological progress to make the EVLA a completely modern, 21st-Century scientific facility," said Fred K.Y. Lo, NRAO Director. Dedicated in 1980, the array is best known for its appearance in the 1997 movie Contact, starring Jodie Foster and based on the science fiction novel by Carl Sagan and has become a popular tourist attraction in New Mexico with 50,000 visitors a year."

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