US: NASA has developed advanced technology for making precise measurements of Earth’s orientation and rotation – information that will help provide a foundation for navigation of all space missions and for geophysical studies. The technology includes a new class of radio antenna and electronics that provide broadband capabilities for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).
The technique is used to make precise measurements of Earth in space and time, researchers said. VLBI measurements have been conducted for decades using a worldwide network of stations that carry out coordinated observations of very distant astronomical objects called quasars.
To meet the demand for more precise measurements, a new global network of stations, called the VLBI Global Observing System (VGOS) is being rolled out to replace the legacy network. NASA is participating in this next-generation network and just completed the installation of a joint NASA-US Naval Observatory VGOS station at NASA’s Observatory in Hawaii.
On February 5, NASA conducted the first demonstration anywhere in the world of broadband observations for VLBI over a long baseline. “The successful tests demonstrate the viability of the new broadband antenna technology for making the kinds of observations needed for improved accuracy in measurements of the very fine-scale shape of Earth,” said Benjamin R Phillips, who leads NASA’s Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area.
The broadband antenna and electronics provide improved sensitivity in a scaled-down package. With dish sizes of 12 to 13 metres, the next-generation antennas are designed to be smaller than most of the current system’s dishes, which are typically 20 to 30 metres.
Source: Indian Express