Today is Sunday. So let's go out far away from home -- in the sky. Even if we'll still talk about computers. And about collaborative tools (do you remember my column dated August 12, 2002 on Interplanetary Collaboration?).
Astronomers with an international partnership of observatories are leveraging Internet connectivity to join telescopes on different continents, creating the world's first global cyber observatory. The work being done by the Gemini Observatory -- a National Science Foundation-supported effort that includes two 8-meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile -- will link astronomical resources for increased cooperation and more efficient and powerful probes of space.
Researchers at Gemini, a cooperative astronomy effort of the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, are linking the telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and Cerro Pachon in the Chilean Andes through a high-speed network, known as Internet2, and AMPATH, a Florida International University Internet portal.
The Gemini linkage, under development for five years, is just one example of how computing and adaptive optics processing are advancing the field of astronomy. "Because of computer processing power, we can now produce images from the ground that are several times sharper than what is possible with the Hubble Space Telescope," said Gemini spokesperson Peter Michaud.
Not only this initiative is very good for scientists and astronomers, it also benefits taxpayers.
Researchers said by linking telescopes, they will be able to synthesize data and learn more about the celestial subjects they study. "The ability to immediately network with scientists and engineers around the world will allow us to use our instruments more effectively and efficiently," Gemini's Michaud said.
Source: Jay Lyman, NewsFactor Network, August 20, 2002