University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403 USA
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Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services
Using INTERNET to Transform the Earth into a Large Telescope
There is currently a crisis in Cosmology in that the apparent distribution of matter in the Universe, is a lot more clumpy and clustered than simple Big Bang models would predict. For the last decade, Greg Bothun, an astronomer at the University of Oregon, has been involved with a large scale program to determine what the local mass distribution actually is. Most of this work has been done in Chile as best site on the Earth for making astronomical observations is located in the foothills of the Northern Chilean Andes.
In the pre-INTERNET era, approximately 30 hours of travel time were required to get from Oregon to the Telescope. With a NASA maintained satellite up-link however, the data can now come directly to a Sun Workstation in Eugene where it can be displayed and analyzed. In addition, hourly satellite photo retrieval is used to assess the weather conditions within a 100 mile radius of the telescope. The end result of this makes for a much more efficient way in which the relevant data can be acquired.
As more and more telescopes get on the lNTERNET the opportunity for performing coordinated world wide observations increases. Moreover, as telescopes move to a unified control environment, through X-windows, it will be possible to have a central lNTERNET site, control the movements of a vast array of telescopes. For now though, it is nice to just be able to operate and retrieve the data from a telescope which is located 10,000 miles away from Dr. Bothun’s Workstation.