MIT Haystack Observatory

Westford, Massachusetts

(Picture of Haystack's Radome)

The Haystack Observatory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an interdisciplinary research center engaged in radio astronomy, geodesy, atmospheric sciences, and radar applications. The radio-astronomy program is conducted under the auspices of the Northeast Radio Observatory Corporation (NEROC), a consortium of 13 educational and research institutions in the northeast, which operates the Haystack radio telescope under agreement with MIT. Haystack Observatory is located in the adjoining towns of Westford, Tyngsborough, and Groton, Massachusetts, about 35 miles northwest of the MIT campus in Cambridge.

The NEROC institutions are: Boston University, Brandeis University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Polytechnic Institute of New York, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, Wellesley College, and Yale University.

The Observatory instrumentation consists of the following facilities:

Haystack Radio Telescope (Cutaway picture of Haystack's Radome)
A 37-m-diameter radio telescope enclosed in a radome and used for astronomical observations at wavelengths from 2.6 mm to 13 cm as well as for wideband radar space surveillance and debris measurements at 3 cm;

Westford Radio Telescope (Picture of Westford's Radome)
An 18-m-diameter radio telescope involved in geodetic measurements of the earth's plate motions using very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI);

Mark-IIIA VLBI Correlator (Picture of the VLBI Correlator)
An 8-station VLBI correlator used to process global geodetic experiments as well as astronomical observations at millimeter wavelengths;

Millstone Hill Observatory (Overview picture of Millstone Hill Observatory)
A high-power radar that utilizes two large antennas, 46 m and 67 m in diameter, to study the earth's upper atmosphere using incoherent backscatter techniques, and an optical observatory to monitor atmospheric airglow emission and measure winds in the upper atmosphere.

Haystack Observatory receives financial support for its research programs from various federal agencies including the National Science Foundation (radio astronomy and atmospheric sciences), NASA (geodesy) and the USAF through MIT Lincoln Laboratory (space surveillance and debris).

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Revised: 1997 November 10, JAB