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Space Science

E-Merlin "Super-Telescope" Switched On 41

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the ip-over-avian-carrier-would-have-been-better dept.
Smivs writes to tell us that one of the world's most powerful telescope arrays has been switched on with great success. Seven radio telescopes in the UK have been linked with optical fiber, replacing the older microwave tech that connected them previously. One researcher compared the move to a broadband upgrade from dial-up. Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years.
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E-Merlin "Super-Telescope" Switched On

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  • shocking (Score:4, Funny)

    by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@ y a hoo.com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:39PM (#27652957)

    The UK can link telescopes together with fiber but my ISP, billion dollar company, cant get me fios 5 miles south of downtown Dallas. Sigh.

  • lot-o-data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dnormant (806535) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:41PM (#27653005)

    TFA doesn't mention it but I would assume they have upgraded their storage and processing power to accommodate the additional data.

    • Re:lot-o-data (Score:5, Insightful)

      by robkill (259732) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:47PM (#27653105)

      Given the age of the older microwave links, plus the fact they were doing the processing, but were bandwidth-limited, it's probable that they've had the storage and processing power for a while, but the bandwidth infrastructure is now just catching up.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by footnmouth (665025)
        the bloke in the office opposite me is a part of this. Trust me, they have the money and the track record to make sure it's done properly.

        and he gets to live and work in Cornwall on big science - I hate him..... :-)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Extremus (1043274)
        This strangely reminds my of something I have read in a Tanenbaum book:

        Never Underestimate The Bandwidth of A Station Wagon Full Of Magnetic Tapes Hurtling Down The Highway

        • by timeOday (582209)
          An oldie but goodie. But the older it gets the less true it is. Compared to an ISDN line shared across an entire department? Sure. Compared to a dedicated fiber line with modern switching hardware, not so much.
          • by stevelinton (4044)

            Sure, but now you can fill the station wagon with 64GB flash drives or 2TB hard drives.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              Ultimately what matters is how long it takes to get data into RAM where it will be processed, right? With a dedicated fiber line, maybe pre-staging the data onto hard drives in the computer isn't even that important anymore. Just store it somewhere safe, then access it over the network when and if you need it. I'm not even sure having a hard drive cache for the web browser is all that beneficial anymore.
        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Ah, but the latency of the station wagon for transferring, say, 5gb of data over 150kms is pretty horrible. Especially so when you're trying to coordinate observations in realtime to detect interesting events.
    • Re:lot-o-data (Score:5, Informative)

      by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:54PM (#27653199) Homepage Journal

      The aliens supply that.

      Seriously, that's a good question. Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope (otherwise known as the Lovell Telescope), a key part of eMerlin, was threatened with closure due to a budget shortfall for science and research. Jodrell Bank was deemed, by British ministers, to be of relatively little significance.

      Given that, and given the problems with then getting everything done on time, upgrading their computer facilities might not have been so easy. Until the budget was fixed, they had nothing to buy equipment with. They were considering scrapping eMerlin altogether because they couldn't find the money to get the network in place, let alone process the data.

      Buying computer equipment last-minute in a panic, especially when you've shielding constraints from hell and a lot of media visibility, is not a good idea. There's absolutely no telling if they had the cash to buy enough compute power even to record the data, let alone crunch it. We will know that when it's fully online and results start coming through.

      ObTrivia: Brian May, guitarist for Queen, studied readio astronomy under Professor Lovell and may well have ended up a director for the telescope (and eMerlin) if his music hasn't, ummm, diverted his attention.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ObTrivia: Brian May, guitarist for Queen, studied readio astronomy under Professor Lovell and may well have ended up a director for the telescope (and eMerlin) if his music hasn't, ummm, diverted his attention.

        Brian May never touched radio astronomy; he did his PhD research on Zodiacal light at Imperial College and was offered a postdoc position at Jodrell Bank, but other pursuits diverted him.

  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by XPeter (1429763) * on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:46PM (#27653069) Homepage
    Did they find my little green friends yet? ;)
  • Let me know when Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway & NSF Director David Drumlin need help decoding the freshly downloaded palimpsest.
  • That was easy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) *
    Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years.

    So they can do 1000 times more just by upgrading the speed of the connection between the telescopes? That's pretty remarkable, why didn't they do it earlier?
    • I'm going to guess just from reading the title that they couldn't find the switch. Maybe they were too busy doing the thing that took them three years to look for it. It's great that they have an e-merlin though, now they just need an e-arthur.

    • Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years. So they can do 1000 times more just by upgrading the speed of the connection between the telescopes? That's pretty remarkable, why didn't they do it earlier?

      Because now they're expected to actually FIND something of significance instead of photoshopping Keeley Hazell's cleavage onto planetary nebulae.

    • by MrMr (219533)
      ..will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years
      I can sea that:
      - drink 6000 cups of tea
      - download all the porn
      - write a 1 page report on a vague blip
    • by SlashDev (627697)

      Now IS earlier

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:51PM (#27653811) Homepage
    For my Smell-O-Scope!
  • A whole day on broadband... An improvement to be sure, but I think the money would have been better spent on viagra.
  • Can another nekkid picture of Sarkozy's wife's ass be far "behind"?

  • one of the world's most powerful telescope arrays

    It could be one of the top ten, one of the top hundred, or one of the top in the history of ever. This phrase conveys no useful information. Please be a little more specific next time, or skip the hyperbole. As far as I know there are millions of these and this is one of them.

  • The US New Mexico radio telescope facility (the scene of countless scifi movies) is upgrading its current eight-band analog system to a mixed 16K band hybrid digital/analog system. The old system transmitted the analog signal via microwave pipes from up to 26 telescopes up to 8 miles apart. Then the signals were analog cross-correlated synthesized aperture to simulate a multi-mile telescope. When I visited in 2008 they said [nrao.edu] they were going to digitize the signal at the telescope, transmit it to the centr
  • That is, literally, really amazing.

    I'm surprised there aren't more posts on this topic.  Isn't anyone interested?

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