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Super-Sharp Radio 'Eye' Remeasuring the Universe

Using the super-sharp radio "vision" of astronomy's most precise telescope, scientists have extended a directly-measured "yardstick" three times farther into the cosmos than ever before, an achievement with important implications for numerous areas of astrophysics, including determining the nature of Dark Energy, which constitutes 70 percent of the Universe. The continent-wide Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) also is redrawing the map of our home Galaxy and is poised to yield tantalizing new information about extrasolar planets, among many other cutting-edge research projects.

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Ever heard of the VLBA?

Probably not, unless you're an astronomy professor or hobbyist.
It stands for Very Long Baseline Array, the kind of name a committee of scientists would think is very catchy.
But this system is so good that it has the ability to see fine detail equivalent to standing in New York City and reading a newspaper in Los Angeles. It peers through clouds and dust into other galaxies, into regions where planets are being formed. It has produced images that go to the very beginnings of the universe, and helped discover a black hole in the centre of the Milky Way.

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Record-Breaking Radio Astronomy Project to Measure Sky with Extreme Precision
Astronomers will tie together the largest collection of the world's radio telescopes ever assembled to work as a single observing tool in a project aimed at improving the precision of the reference frame scientists use to measure positions in the sky. The National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) will be a key part of the project, which is coordinated by the International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry.

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Very Long Array
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I'm standing in the middle of "the centre of the known universe," as this room is sometimes called. And in a way, it feels like that's actually where I am.
That's because I'm in the control centre of the Very Large Array, a collection of 27 dish antennas, each of which weighs 230 tons and has a diameter of 25 meters. Together, the antennas form the world's largest radio telescope.

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Latitude: 340443.497N, Longitude: 1073703.819W

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Very Long Baseline Array
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The Very Long Baseline Array, a radio astronomy observatory with employees in Socorro, must find funding outside its current source by 2011 to remain open.
The array's director expects to succeed in that.
The National Science Foundation funds the array and other National Radio Astronomy Observatory work.
Friday, its Astronomy Senior Review Committee released a report recommending the national observatory decrease scientific staff costs and secure international money for the VLBA by 2011.

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