Big New Radio Telescope Array Listens in on Space

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1981, Vol. 51, Issue 6, Pg. 62-64

Document Type: Feature article


The world's most powerful radio telescope is so sensitive that it can detect a small CB rig operating on a distant planet. The Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope Facility located near Socorro, New Mexico, consists of 27 individual antennas arranged along three equally spaced radial arms forming a Y-shaped array. Antennas are moved along a railroad track to the 72 observing stations. Each arm has 24 observing stations arranged to allow the 27 antennas to be simultaneously operated. Through stringent economies, innovative design and modification, the final system cost was held to $78.5 million representing only a 3.3 percent cost overrun over seven years. The New Mexico location was chosen after careful evaluation of potential sites in the Southwest. During final design, an extensive site-specific geotechnical investigation was carried out.

Subject Headings: Antennas | Telescopes | Developing countries | Railroad stations | Planets | Railroad tracks | Rail transportation | Innovation | New Mexico | United States

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