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The iconic Very Large Array is almost as much pop culture as science instrument. It’s been part of movie plots, on album covers, in comic books and video games. But now, the VLA is being transformed from its original 1970s-vintage technology with state-of-the-art equipment. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory says that the upgrades will increase the VLA’s technical capabilities by factors of as much as 8,000 and greatly increasing the array’s scientific impact.
And so to befit the VLA’s new capabilities, NRAO has decided the array should have a new name. And they are looking for some help from the public.
There is a special website, namethearray.org, where you can submit a name suggestion. You may enter a free-form name, or a word or phrase to come as a prefix before “Very Large Array,” or both.
Entries will be accepted until 23:59 EST on December 1, 2011, and the new name will be announced at NRAO’s Town Hall at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.
“The VLA Expansion Project, begun in 2000, has increased the VLA’s technical capabilities by factors of as much as 8,000, and the new system allows scientists to do things they never could do before,” said Fred K.Y. Lo, Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “After more than three decades on the frontiers of science, the VLA now is poised for a new era as one of the world’s premier tools for meeting the challenges of 21st-Century astrophysics.”