News 2007

07.12.18 NASA has selected three teams of scientists to begin studying disks of dust around nearby stars starting in February 2008, using the Keck Interferometer in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Details in the press release NASA Mega-Telescope Gears Up to Study Cosmos.
07.12.18 The Michelson Science Center is pleased to announce the public release of a new tool (part of the getCal suite) for planning interferometer observations. The new Visibility Modelling Tool (VMT 1.0) computes visibility amplitudes (and approximate Nuller response for the Keck Interferometer) for most operating ground based optical interferometers.
07.11.29 There will be a splinter session at the AAS meeting in Austin on the evening of January 9th starting at 7:15pm in order to discuss the future of ground based O/IR Interferometry. This session will be focussed on how we might best position the field for a positive outcome in the next decadal review. Theo ten Brummelaar will be chairing this session.
07.11.15 The recent earthquake in Chile had its epicenter to the north of the VLT site and north of Antofagasta. At the VLT no major problems were encountered and nobody was hurt. (Courtesy of Markus Schoeller.)
07.10.20 The Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur has opened applications for the 2008 Henri Poincare Postdoctoral Fellowships. Applications are due by 4 January 2008.
07.09.28 Photos of the recent integration of the VEGA instrument at the CHARA Array can be found at this site. First fringes were obtained with VEGA/CHARA on the second night on the sky. More information can be found at the VEGA website.
07.09.28 The 2008 Michelson Postdoc and Graduate Student Fellowship Call has been deferred by 6 months pending NASA funding.
07.09.28 The European Southern Observatory has issued the press release The Frugal Cosmic Ant describing observations by Olivier Chesneau and collaborators of the Ant Nebula using MIDI.
07.09.28 The European Southern Observatory has issued the press release Into the Chrysalis describing observations by Pieter Deroo and collaborators of the V390 Velorum using MIDI and AMBER.
07.09.10 The presentations and videos from the AMBER workshop of March 2007 are now available.
07.08.31 Gerard van Belle has taken on the position of PRIMA Instrument Scientist at the European Southern Observatory.
07.08.03 The European Southern Observatory has issued the press release Star Caught Smoking which describes observations of RY Sagittarii, an R CrB star.
07.07.20 Two live webcams (Webcam #1 and Webcam #2) can be viewed that monitor the interferometer site at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer.
07.07.20 The Broad Area Announcement for the F-6 Program has been released. This is a proposed DARPA program that could possibly involve formation flying technology.
07.07.11 The Departmets of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Approprations Bill, 2008strongly urges NASA to reformulate the Navigator Program toward smaller missions. Note that this is one of many steps in the budget process for NASA.
07.06.30 The Mission Updates for Orbital Express show continued success with its maneuvers.
07.06.30 Djamel Mekarnia describes his winter-over in Concordia (Dome C) through his journal. He is continuing research on antarctic seeing for the University of Nice.
07.06.30 A pre-release of new AMBER data reduction software is available from the AMBER website.
07.05.31 The National Science Foundation has issued the press release Gazing up at the Man in the Star?describing work by John Monnier et al. published in Science today. The observations of Altair used the MIRC beam combiner at the CHARA Array.
07.05.31 The European Southern Observatory has issued the press release Chronicle of a Death Foretolddescribing observations of the Mira variable S Orionis, based on observations with VLTI/MIDI and the VLBA.
07.05.23 The Adaptive Nuller testbed at JPL has now demonstrated an 82,000:1 rejection ratio with a bandwidth of 32% (full width at half maximum) in the band from 8-12 microns. This result is just shy of the flight requirement for TPF-I of a 100,000:1 null at 25% bandwidth. The previous best broadband null at 10 microns was 50,000:1 at 32% bandwidth, also by the Adaptive Nuller and reported in February this year.
07.05.10 The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is planning to fund a program to launch a fractionated satellite mission by 2010 or 2011. Distributed systems for formation-flying would be included amongst the concepts considered. See the article DARPA studies launching of satellite in piecesin Defense News.
07.04.27 Two VLTI Summer Schools are being offered. VLTI Summer School: Circumstellar disks and planets at very high angular resolution, Ofir, Portugal, 28 May - 8 June 2007; and VLTI Summer School: Active Galactic Nuclei at the highest angular resolution: theory and observations, Torun, Poland, 27 August - 7 September 2007.
07.04.27 The position of PRIMA Instrument Scientist has been advertised with an application deadline of 11 June 2007.
07.04.13 The prototype delay line for Darwin is described in an ESA press release entitled Feather-light touch all that's needed for Darwin's frictionless optics.
07.04.05 The VLTI is advertising for a System Engineer with applications due by April 16th.
07.04.05 The CHARA Year Three Science Review is available at the CHARA website. The review took place March 15-16, 2007 in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History.
07.03.30 The Working Group on Radiative Transfer of the European Interferometry Initiative announces a Workshop on Perspectives in Radiative Transfer and Interferometry, to be held at Pizay Castle near Lyon, France, May 14 to 16, 2007.
07.03.30 Pictures from Orbital Express are now available. The pictures/movie show the check-out of the autonomous rendezvous and docking experiment by a camera on an arm of one of the units. The rendezvous and docking experiments (yet to be conducted) will be using video acquisition.
07.03.22 The Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer website has been released. This website includes details of science plans and technology progress, as well as descriptions of the contributing testbeds.
07.03.22 Photographs of the VLTI, taken 9 March 2007, are available courtesy of the editor. The photos include views of an Auxiliary Telescope in the process of being moved.
07.03.19 The ESO call for Proposals for the VLT and VLTI has been issued for Period 80. The deadline for the submission of observing programmes with MIDI and AMBER is 30 March 2007.
07.03.19 Photographs of IOTA deconstruction work are available at the IOTA website.
07.03.19 The CHARA Array is featured at a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. See the Press Release.
07.03.19 The 2007 Michelson Fellows have been announced.
07.03.02 The Call for proposals for the first planning cycle of the new Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan of the ESA Science Programme will released on Monday 5 March 2007, pm. The Call will be available from the web at the following address: While you're waiting for that see Cosmic Vision Waiting for Launch and the Cosmic Vision Schedule from the Director's Desk.
07.02.26 Within a few weeks, ESA will invite the scientific community to propose the first missions for Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. The first medium-class mission should be launched in the 2016-2017 timeframe at the latest. The first large mission is targeted to launch in autumn 2018. A proposal for Darwin will likely be amongst the submissions.
07.02.24 The Fizeau Exchange Visitors Program are now open. Completed applications are due 15 March 2007.
07.02.22 A special issue of results from AMBER, the near-infrared VLTI imager, has appeared in the March II issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. See the joint press release First astrophysical results from AMBER for details.
07.02.13 The Adaptive Nuller Testbed at JPL has demonstrated a 50,000:1 rejection ratio with a bandwidth of 32% (full width at half maximum) in the band from 8-12 microns. The Adaptive Nuller uses a deformable mirror (DM) at the focus of a spectrometer to adjust phase by pistoning the individual elements along the spectrum, and intensity by tilting those same elements (thus adjusting shear at an output pupil stop). The previous best broadband null at 10 microns was about 20,000:1 at 18% bandwidth using the laboratory version of the Keck Nuller. The revised requirements for nulling with either TPF-I or Darwin suggest that a 100,000:1 rejection ratio is sufficient for detecting Earth-like planets. Thus the current laboratory work is only about a factor of 2 away from flight requirements.
07.02.09 The membership of the ExoPlanet Task Force has been announced. The NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) established an ExoPlanet Task Force (ExoPTF) as a subcommittee to advise NSF and NASA on the future of the ground-based and space-based search for and study of exo-planets, planetary systems, Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars. Steve Ridgway is the point of contact at NASA Headquarters.
07.02.09 Ming Zhao, a student of John Monnier at the University of Michigan, was awarded a Michelson Graduate Fellowship this year. His work will focus on direct detection of extrasolar planets using the CHARA Interferometer, as well as high-resolution imaging studies of rapidly-rotating hot star photospheres and Be star disks. (Courtesy of John Monnier).
07.01.05 The Applied Physics Group at Tel Aviv University have produced high-quality single mode silver halide fiber optics. Silver halide fibers transmit in the wavelength range above 10 microns and complement the already available single-mode chalcogenide fibers produced by other groups, such as the Naval Research Laboratory. These fibers are used in the nulling interferometry testbeds of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
07.01.05 Phase referencing to be implemented at the Keck Interferometer. See the press release NSF Awards $2 Million Grant to Improve Keck Interferometer
07.01.05 The European Southern Observatory has obtained first light with the fourth and last to be installed Auxilliary Telescope. See the press release Little Brother Joins the Large Family.