Virtual Very Large Array (VLA) Tour: Operations

May 21, 2021

Virtual Very Large Array (VLA) Tour: Operations

A large, powerful radio telescope like the Very Large Array (VLA) requires no small amount of effort, coordination, and staff to operate and maintain.

Join us for a virtual tour to learn more about the ins and outs of how the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) continues to keep the VLA up and running as the hardest-working Earth-based telescope in the world.

The Very Large Array is the most versatile, widely-used radio telescope in the world. It can map large-scale structure of gas and molecular clouds and pinpoint ejections of plasma from supermassive black holes. It is the world’s first color camera for radio astronomy, thanks to its new suite of receivers and a supercomputer than can process wide fields of spectral data simultaneously. The VLA is also a high-precision spacecraft tracker that NASA and ESA have used to keep tabs on robotic spacecrafts exploring the Solar System.

Even before its formal dedication in 1980, the VLA had become an invaluable research tool. More than 5,000 astronomers from around the world have used the VLA for more than 14,000 different observing projects. The VLA has had a major impact on nearly every branch of astronomy, and the results of its research are abundant in the pages of scientific journals and textbooks. More than 500 Ph.D. degrees have been awarded on the basis of research done with the VLA.