Large Millimeter Telescope

Posted by Sam Churchill on


Douglas Quaid: All right, let’s say you’re telling the truth and this is all a dream, I could pull this trigger and it won’t matter.
Dr. Edgemar: It won’t make the slightest difference to me Doug, but the consequences to you will be devastating. In your mind I’ll be dead, and with no one to guide you out, you’ll be stuck in permanent psychosis. The walls of reality will come crashing down. One minute, you’re the savior of the Rebel cause, next thing you know you’ll be Cohaagen’s bosom buddy. You’ll even have fantasies about alien civilizations as you requested, but in the end, back on Earth you’ll be lobotomized! So get a grip on yourself Doug, and put down that gun! – Total Recall

The Large Millimeter Telescope Observatory (LMTO), the largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope operating in the millimeter band, was commissioned last week Mexico’s president Vicente Fox.

The $128 million radio telescope covers an area of 4,580 meters, atop Sierra Negara, Mexico’s fifth-highest peak and an extinct volcano, 217 miles southeast of Mexico City. The joint Mexican (70%) and American (30%) project is managed by the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The 50-meter diameter antenna is capable of picking up signals from the faintest objects in outer space. It embeds 720 actuators and an array of thermal sensors to correct for thermal and gravitational deformation.The millimeter band picks up electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths of 1 millimeter to 3 millimeters — shorter than radio waves but longer than infrared, visible light and gamma rays. Scientific operations are expected to begin following first-light in 2008.

The bulk of the U.S. funding came from DARPA, which kicked in $33 million. Some Mexicans believe the project may be aimed at developing technology for space defense.

Philip Coyle, the former U.S. assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, was director of operational testing and evaluation at the Pentagon. He said officials wouldn´t fund a project unless it had strong potential military value, in this case against hostile satellites or missiles.

“It is a very high-powered, focused radar beam that could be used to find an enemy object out in space and, having found it, zero in on it,” Coyle said.

Peter Schloerb, who oversees part of the project for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said there could be defense applications for the radio-telescope research, but said the Pentagon has had a hand in many types of research.

“I am an astronomer. I am not a weapons scientist,” said Schloerb. “Nobody in their right mind would build some kind of a secret weapon in the country of Mexico. That is just not happening”.

Millimeter-wave cloud radars, operate at 35 GHz (Ka-band) and 95 GHz (W-band) with moderate transmit power. DARPA’s Deep View program will develop a high-resolution radar imaging for small objects at orbits from (LEO) to (GEO) based upon a large aperture imaging radar system operating at very high power at 95 GHz.

Meanwhile, millimeter-wave technology researchers at Northrop-Grumman are developing a technology said to enable small cameras to look through clothing and other inert materials, reports EE Times.

Known as passive millimeter-wave (PMMW) technology, it can also see through heavy clouds in order to perform aerial surveillance on bad weather days, according materials provided by the organizers of the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) where Northrop-Grumman researchers plan to present a paper in February 2007.

Trex Enterprises is a leader in satellite imaging. Among their projects underway is the Satellite Active Imaging National Testbed (SAINT) program which images low earth orbit satellites using Fourier Telescopy.

PMMW involves very-high-frequency amplifiers running at frequencies up to 300 gigahertz and detectors capable of sensing and processing picowatt power levels.

Northrop-Grumman researchers plan to describe achieving a 2.5-decibel gain at 300 GHz, the highest-frequency active ICs ever reported, according to the ISSCC organizers. Operating at these frequencies required the use of indium-phosphide (InP) technology with 75- and 35-nanometer features sizes, as well as lenses and detectors capable of processing millimeter-wavelength radiation.

ISSCC organizers liken the technology to that used in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall, where passengers are screened electronically, through clothing, for weapons and other contraband.

SafeView already has a line of millimeter body scanners.

Related Millimeter Band articles on DailyWireless include; The Very Very Large Array, SBX Arrives, Satellite Jam, Software Radios in Space, Intergalatic Long Shots, Beam Weapons and More Beam Weapons.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, November 27th, 2006 at 9:29 pm .

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