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Radio Astronomy: e-VLBI

Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) has been used by radio astronomers for more than 30 years as one of the most powerful techniques for studying objects in the universe at ultra-high resolution and measuring earth motions with ultra-high accuracy. VLBI allows images of distant radio sources to be made with resolutions of tens of microarcseconds, far better than any optical telescope. VLBI also provides a stable inertial reference frame formed by distant quasars to study the motions of the Earth in space with exquisite precision, revealing much information about both surface and internal motions of the Earth system, including interactions with the dynamic motions of the atmosphere and oceans.

VLBI combines data simultaneously acquired from a global array of up to ~20 radio telescopes to create a single coherent instrument. Traditionally, VLBI data are collected at data rates close to ~1 Gbps on magnetic tapes or disks that are shipped to a central site for correlation processing. Work has begun to utilize modern global high-speed networks to faciliate this process and potentially develop important new capabilites such as real-time data correlation and analysis and scientific returns.

The advanced capabilities of the DRAGON infrastructure will be utilized to greatly increase the timeliness, quality, and raw bandwidth of data flow from the radio telescopes to the correlator sites. The DRAGON network will include connections to NASA GSFC Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO), U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) in Washington, D.C., and the MIT Haystack Observatory. The ability of the DRAGON infrastructure to dynamically provision guaranteed resources will be used to establish an e-VLBI application specific topology which can be scheduled in advance, provisioned in seconds, and provide guaranteed end-to-end QoS.

Topic revision: r5 - 2006-05-12 - ChrisTracy
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