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AFRL Participates in Construction of High-Powered Telescope in New Mexico

Space exploration science

AFRL Participates in Construction of High-Powered Telescope in New Mexico

The Air Force Research Laboratory is working with a team of U.S. and U.K.-based researchers to construct a high-powered Earth-based optical telescope in New Mexico.

The Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer will be built on a site managed by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in the city of Socorro.

NMT will work with a team of researchers and students from the University of Cambridge, AFRL said Monday.

MROI will use a technique called astronomical interferometry, which involves the use of multiple small telescopes to obtain the resolution of a larger telescope, according to NMT.

AFRL said that MROI will have a system of 10 collecting mirrors working together to recreate a high-resolution image.

The scientific goal of the project is to produce model-independent images of faint astronomical objects at resolutions over 100 times that of the Hubble Space Telescope, NMT said.

MROI will feature a design that provides higher resolutions and sensitivities than what is offered by current array telescopes, AFRL said.

“This is a technique capability that cannot be equaled from space today,” said Van Romero, vice president for research and professor of physics at NMT.

Romero said that MROI will improve the detection of objects in geosynchronous Earth orbit.

The satellite would also help astronomers assess the health and orientation of man-made objects in space, among other applications, the professor added.

Congress will provide NMT $6.2 million to carry out the first phase of the project, which is expected to cost about $30 million over five years.

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Category: Space

Tags: AFRL interferometry Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer New Mexico NMT space telescope Van Romero