Wednesday, September 10, 2008

E.T. -- You Have A Call On Line One!

This is very cool! I was reading this article in SciAm today, about upgrading the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, a collection of 27 radio telescopes used to explore the universe. The expanded VLA is the latest breakthrough in the technology, going completely digital to be up and running by 2012. What is so impressive is the supercomputer, or correlator, that monitors and compiles all the various signals coming in from each of these antenna dishes.

You can read the entire article online by clicking here.

This is my favorite excerpt:

"Engineers also upgraded the path by which signals get from the antenna dishes to the correlator, using all-digital fiber optics that replace the old analog waveguides. The dishes are getting new, exquisitely sensitive digital receivers, providing continuous band coverage from one to 50 gigahertz. All these upgrades will pump up the VLA’s capabilities at least 10-fold, making it able, in principle, to detect a signal as weak as a cell phone call from Jupiter."

I'm simply dumbfounded by the awesomeness of the bolded statement. Science rocks, hard!

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