View Full Version : My Crazy Idea

2003-Jul-24, 06:12 AM
One of the recent advances in astronomy is the concept of interferometry, where the light from several telescopes are added together to act as if they're a much larger telescope.

From what I understand, this is a very precise affair, and requires a lot of computer resources.

Is there any way that smaller telescopes could be connected this way in an array? Could you get to the point that hundreds or even thousands could be connected together. Maybe you could create an Interferometry@home software so people could provide computer power to process the images together.

Am I making any sense? Or am I missing something important?

2003-Jul-24, 09:59 AM
This is a cool idea. Can we get some ppl in the know to comment on this? Just imagine having a scope as big as an entire hemisphere... couldn't we see to the edge of the universe? :D

2003-Jul-24, 02:01 PM
its gonna be terribly difficult, i should say next to impossible for hundreds of ppl to point their telescopes at the same position in the sky with extremely precise positioning, and for monitoring bad data.

2003-Jul-24, 02:20 PM
Would not the processing power be an instant need for this to happen from all ends at once? SETI sends out seperate blocks of info for each computer to analyze, on that computers own time... but if all computers were running a program that would take power from them when it was needed, that may cause a slow down of ALL computers if something were to happen that may cause a bottleneck or something along those lines...

I would think that having alot of computers working together might function more precisely if those computers were left to ONLY be used in this project. Personal computers aren&#39;t fast enough for this. Business servers wouldn&#39;t want that much lag thrown onto their services... and the processing power needed would be better off coming from computers far superior to what the public is sold...

Maybe if governments did this, it may be possible and very resourceful...
I would definitely pay at least 2% of my salary to help fund this... but i know my computer would crash before i had a chance to see any given result :)

Sounds good none the less... and seeing to the END of the universe, well...
At the rate of expansion going on... that may not be possible as of yet anywayz.
For, no matter how RED the shift may be.... the end may be even farther than we could imagine.

But, just imagine... millions of computers processing together, powering the strongest ever telescope built by man... individuals working together.

. ..-={Arramon}=-.. .

2003-Jul-25, 04:17 AM
Check out the Allen array:

Allen Array (http://www.seti.org/science/ata.html)

They are attempting to build just such a device using radio telescopes at Hat Creek. The processing power required to do this with optical telescopes is probably exponentially greater (just a guess) but I bet it would be possible to link up a half dozen or so optical telescopes this way without too much effort as long as you knew where they are in relationship to each other "very" accurately and they all had very precise tracking so as to point at the same object and you could correct for atmospheric distortions over a huge area.

This would be much easier to do in space I think since the atmospheric distortions would not throw off the alignment. Perhaps someone could launce some small automated telescopes to operate from the surface of the moon and then people could crunch the data from these telescopes at home.

One thing to consider though is the light gathering ability of this kind of telescope is not as good as if you had a lense as wide as the separation distance so you would only collect as much light as the sum of the surface areas of the telescopes that you use.

J. Scott Berry
Physics Graduate Student
Oregon State University

2003-Jul-25, 05:58 AM
I remember reading somewhere that there&#39;s a plan (by NASA/ESA/JSA/ Russians?) to launch a series of space telescopes, to be parked in orbit, thus creating a scope as big as the orbit around earth. Would like to know what happened to that? Can anyone check?

2003-Jul-25, 07:43 AM
Seti is doing something simular, but with radio waves,

2003-Jul-25, 08:10 AM
Just a though,
If you contact a ISP provider... like yahoo, or googel, there are hundreds out there, Thay have hundreds of hardrives and computering power
Set up a FTP site were we can upload Pic&#39;s, Time, long, lat, deg, and then you need a computer engineer to desine a program to "auto" sort, caterarize, possition,
and so on... all the imput. But the hardest thing to do is to get the public to
send in there pic&#39;s and so on to your new FTP site.... ;)

Sorrey about the selling Regards Vince

2003-Jul-25, 09:55 AM
I had simular idea the other day actually. I don&#39;t think computing power is the issue here. For obvious reasons, the computation involved in inferometric calculations requires the positions of the various telescopes to be known to extreme levels of accuracy (which I don&#39;t think is possible for individuals with telescopes). Having an array of scopes the size of an entire hemisphere would have disadvantages too. Think about weather, different levels of atmospheric disturbance depending on the angle you&#39;re looking at. Getting consistent data would be a nightmare&#33;

Arlo Tol
2003-Jul-25, 01:26 PM
Is the "problem" of people not pointing at the same place, time, etc.
Not a "virtual" one? The computer can make a selection of data it&#39;s getting and take the ones too far off out of the equation (bit like the points of a jury given during the Olympics, the highest and the lowest are discarded).

As only a "small" amount of the telescopes can be pointed toward the same object at once (it&#39;s got to be dark and clear, remember?) I think this is not the biggest problem.

And what if the two telescopes most distend from another produce something like parallax? (don&#39;t know if the distance is big enough)
On the other hand; It might be beneficial&#33;, with enough computing power you can create a sort of "3D" picture. (with the small (if any) parallax you can measure distance). And just produce more out of the information.

For the moment, a pleassant dream, but in the (near)future?
I think I&#39;m gonna put some money away for a bigger scope.........

Jose Carlos
2003-Jul-25, 04:18 PM
Hi Fraser&#33; I think is a great idea, al the discoverys of the human kind at the begining sound crasy but almost had magnificent results, but the only problem I can see is the software and the conection, think how can you conect 100.000 or more computers at the same time and the telescopes in the same point. I hope you can make it Saludos JC.

2003-Jul-25, 05:45 PM
For: Aiz

Perhaps you are referring to the Space Technology 5 project. Web site http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/st5/index.html The New Millennium Program&#39;s (NMP) ST5 will launch 3 miniature spacecraft, called nanosats or small-sats. Currently scheduled for launch in 2004?? Web site NMP http://nmp.nasa.gov/index_flash.html Lots of info on the MNP web site about future missions. As far as amateur astronomers creating an interferometry network....I will have to think about this one?? I know a local Amateur Astronomer working on the Amateur Space Telescope project http://www.issat.org/. and even with the resources available to them it has been a very complex and difficult project(mostly software issues). However Frasers&#39; idea is very interesting&#33;

BTW Tonight I am attending a lecture by John Dobson&#33;&#33; Should be cool&#33;&#33;


2003-Jul-28, 01:50 AM
Arramon: The SETI program is not in realtime so the computers involved can operate the program in the background, using CPU time that is not ordinarily used. If something similar were to be designed to be used in realtime, then broadband (always on) internet connection would be mandatory. The jobs will need to be fragmented even smaller than the SETI work unit, something that can be run on the individual computers in a minute or less. Anything more will delay the results too much as the programs will probably also be run in the background. Your supercomputer will be responsible for fragmenting the tasks and reintegrating the results. This should, theoretically, increase the apparent computing power of the system proportional to the number of systems integrated into it. Another option is to have scheduled events and the participating offsite computers would be dedicated to the task during the scheduled interval. Anyway, however the details are worked out, it should be interesting.

Aiz: I have heard of this idea, but I have yet to hear of any funding for it. Parking satellites in Earth&#39;s wake would enhance just about every aspect of astronomy, including observations of our sun. The satellites could relay the information down the chain and the closest satellites to the Earth would be our points of contact.

kashi: GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is now available at Radio Shack. The resolution is proportional to the accuracy of the internal clock, but even a low end GPS unit should be sufficient to locate the telescope during the time of the observations. The only drawback I see is digitizing the observations from these amateur telescopes.

Ario Tol: Save some money for digital imaging attachments to your telescope as well. Do not forget about acquiring a good quality GPS unit as well.

stargirl: Thanks for the links. If everyone could afford the robotic telescope, then there would be no problem in integtrating them into a coherent system. Unfortunately, how many individuals have that kind of spare change lying around?

May the future be kind to you
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2003-Jul-28, 07:01 AM
Parallax isn&#39;t would only be an issue looking at close objects like the moon and maybe mars or venus. Otherwise it is insignificant given the "astronomical" distances involved.