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Working Papers: Astronomy and Astrophysics Panel Reports
The Millimeter Array will make possible the study of a wide variety of objects in the solar system, star formation and evolution, stellar nucleosynthesis, chemical and physical structure of the interstellar medium in the Milky Way as well as in distant galaxies, and the structure and evolution of the Universe. The sensitivity, angular resolution, speed, and image quality of the MMA will each exceed that of any existing millimeter wave instrument in the world by more than an order of magnitude.
Due to the fact that the MMA will not be complete before late in the decade, it is essential that adequate support be provided in the interim to the millimeter and sub-millimeter telescopes currently in operation. These instruments will advance the science and technology in this field during the next decade and train the young scientists who will use the MMA when it goes into operation. The existing university-based millimeter interferometers will play a particularly important role because they have begun and will continue to develop the scientific and technical program leading to the MMA. They will also provide a vital source of student and postdoctoral training in millimeter interferometry.
The Radio Astronomy Panel also recommends, in order of priority, the following new moderate scale instruments:
The construction of a filled aperture Large Millimeter Wavelength Radio Telescope.
The expansion of the VLA to cover the range of resolution intermediate between the current VLA and the VLBA, and to greatly enhance the imaging power of both the VLA and the VLBA.
The deployment in space of a 25-m class radio telescope, in collaboration with an international group of partners in Europe, Japan, and the USSR, to operate as a Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) element in space.
The Radio Astronomy Panel recognizes the need for a continuing opportunity for initiating new small-scale projects. Although the Panel fully expects that new ideas will be continually developed over the next decade, we have identified the following initiatives as being particularly meritorious at this time:
A Large Southern Radio Telescope in Brazil to be constructed and operated by an international consortium for research in atmospheric sciences, radio, and radar astronomy in the southern skies.
The construction of a small radio telescope especially designed to detect spatial fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation (CBR) at levels of one part in a million.
The participation in the Soviet and Japanese space VLBI missions planned for the mid 1990's.
The establishment of small research groups at universities to develop advanced instrumentation and carry out observational programs to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
The development of a frequency agile, image-forming radio telescope for solar research.
The construction of a Fast All Sky Telescope to survey the sky for variable radio sources.
The Panel has identified the following areas of technological research which have particularly great potential to enhance the power of existing and future radio telescopes: a) the continued development of receiver technology for millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths; b) the development of broad bandwidth recording systems and data links for VLBI; and c) strengthening of efforts toward the protection from radio frequency interference (RFI) to ground, space, and lunar based radio telescopes, together with the development of effective techniques to suppress or eliminate the effects of RFI on radio astronomy observations.
The Panel also recognizes the opportunity for the development of major new capabilities that will be possible beyond the year 2000, and recommends that an orderly program begin during the 1990's directed toward the development of low frequency radio astronomy techniques on the ground and in space, ultimately leading to the establishment of a low frequency, high resolution radio astronomy telescope on the moon.