LOWELL OBSERVATORY TO LEAD $3.25-MILLION PROJECT TO UPGRADE TELESCOPE ARRAY
Flagstaff, AZ. – The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has awarded $3,269,000 to Lowell Observatory to upgrade the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI) in Flagstaff, Arizona. This will support a project aimed at developing advanced techniques for high-resolution imaging. The improved imaging capability will be applied to astrophysical targets, which will result in new revelations about the nature of extrasolar planets, stellar surface imaging, and the shapes and structures of asteroids.
The NPOI upgrade consists of the addition of three 1.0-meter PlaneWave telescopes. In parallel with this initial 24-month facility upgrade period, a five-year program for the development of advanced techniques for the facility will potentially raise the total grant amount to over $7 million.
Lowell operates the NPOI in partnership with NRL and the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO). It is an advanced telescope array which links multiple optical telescopes together to form a single, larger synthetic telescope. This technique delivers spatial resolution – the ability for a telescope to ‘zoom’ and pick out fine detail – greater than any single traditional telescope can provide.
Lowell Observatory’s Dr. Gerard van Belle heads the project, nicknamed PALANTIR (Precision Array of Large-Aperture New ...