The Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer is a 10 x 1.4 meter aperture long baseline optical and near-infrared
interferometer being built at 3,200 meters altitude on Magdalena Ridge, west of Socorro, NM. The interferometer layout
is an equilateral "Y" configuration to complement our key science mission, which is centered on imaging faint and
complex astrophysical targets. This paper serves as an overview and update on the status of the observatory and our
progress towards first light and first fringes in 2012.
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer is a 10-element 1.4 meter aperture optical and near-infrared
interferometer being built at 3,200 meters altitude on Magdalena Ridge, west of Socorro, NM. The
interferometer layout is an equilateral "Y" configuration to complement our key science mission, which is
centered around imaging faint and complex astrophysical targets. This paper serves as an overview and
update on the status of the observatory and our progress towards first light and first fringes in the next few
This paper discusses the challenges faced in designing and building a new astronomical observatory. Which factors
drive an organization (e.g. university) to invest considerable funding and human resources, and experience considerable
risk to establish a new research facility?
We identify four main drivers for establishing a new observatory: support for education, research, economic
development, and technology development. For public observatories, research is generally the main driver. For nonpublic
observatories, the situation is more complex and is for each situation different.
A detailed description is presented on the drivers and opportunities that resulted in establishing the Magdalena Ridge
Observatory. Three main opportunities are identified: a developed site, surplus equipment, and economic development
of the Socorro area.
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory is a congressionally funded project
to deliver a state-of-the-art observatory on the Magdalena Ridge in
New Mexico to provide astronomical research, educational and outreach
programs to the state. In this paper we report results from one of
our undergraduate projects being run at New Mexico Tech. This project
focuses on the design and characterization of a novel instrument
for sensing the atmospheric flow instabilities related to seeing at the observatory site. The instrument attempts to find the power of turbulence on millisecond time scales by measuring a voltage difference between two active microphones. The principles behind the instrument are explored here and a description of the limitations of the current experimental implementation is given. Initial results from the experiment are presented and compared with simultaneous measurements from a co-located Differential Image Motion Monitor. The instrument is shown to be a valuable and robust tool for monitoring the atmospheric conditions during site testing campaigns, but further
data will be needed to confirm the precise nature of the correlation between measurements made with this system and more conventional seeing metrics.
In the United States an Environmental Impact Statement can easily take two years and cost more than one million dollars. This paper summarizes the experience gained from carrying out the Environmental Impact Statement of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. Methods are given to avoid difficulties and manage time, cost, and communication for a successful conclusion.
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) project is presently funded to design and build a facility including an optical/infrared imaging interferometer composed of up to 10 1.5 meter class telescopes and a single conventional 2.4 meter class telescope. The interferometer array will be arranged in a “Y” configuration and the use of movable telescopes will allow its reconfiguration from a very compact array with baselines up to tens of meters to a true long baseline configuration with baselines up to 400 meters. We plan to introduce adaptive optics systems on the array telescopes.
An optical interferometer with long baselines and high spectral resolution could be used to determine the rotation rate of a star and the orientation of its rotation axis. Orientation is information that has previously been determined only statistically for single stars. Knowing the orientation would allow solution of currently intractable problems in star formation and stellar evolution.
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory project has received first- year funding to complete planning and environmental work. The observatory will have three 2.4-meter telescopes that can be used individually for conventional single-telescope projects or linked to do interferometry. The layout of the observatory will allow fixed east-west baselines as long as 75 meters and may include one telescope that can be moved north-south 100 meters or more to improve coverage in the u- v plane.