Frequency and Time Standard

Essential auxiliary instrumentation, required to make simultaneous observations feasible at VLBA stations separated by thousands of kilometers, is described in this sub-section.

A hydrogen maser provides an ultra-stable frequency reference at each VLBA station. Its standard signals, at 100 MHz and 5 MHz, and multiplied versions thereof, are used throughout the station electronics, both in the antenna and in the station building.

The front end synthesizer generates reference signals to convert the receiver output from RF to IF, with lock points at (n× 500) ± 100 MHz (for n an integer). Output frequencies range between 2.1 and 15.9 GHz. There are 3 such synthesizers, each of which is locked to the maser. One synthesizer is used for most frequency bands, but two are used at 1 cm, at 7 mm, 3 mm, and for the 4 cm wideband mode.