VLBA Array Operations Center

VLBA control roomVLBA control console From the Array Operations Center (AOC) in Socorro, New Mexico, the VLBA operators are able to remotely control and monitor the remote stations over the Internet. The operators can aim the antennas, select radio frequencies for observation, control the tape recorders and monitor the 'health' of the equipment at every site. A real-time display of the array's status is available for observers to also monitor their experiment.

The Correlator

Data recorded at each VLBA site is sent back to the AOC for processing at the correlator, a special-purpose high-performance computer that combines the data from each station to produce a single set of data from which high-resolution images can be made. The correlator performs the complex mathematical operations that actually allow the antennas of the VLBA, plus up to ten other radio telescopes around the world, to function as a single instrument. The correlator, designed and built by NRAO, is capable of performing 750 billion multiplications per second.

The Finished Product

Radio image of Markarian 501The output from the correlator is provided to the astronomer(s) involved with the observation and further analysis and processing is performed on the data. This can occur at the AOC or at the observer's home university or institution. Depending on their scientific objectives, researchers can make images in a variety of forms, including both black-and-white and color formats.