Facilities > VLBA > Sensitivity

Sensitivity Enhancement Program

At its 1993 dedication, the VLBA sensitivity was limited by the available bandwidth,16 MHz in dual polarization. Technology progressed, however, and substantial increases in bandwidth and continuum sensitivity became affordable. Thus, since the array’s dedication, the NRAO has quadrupled the available VLBA bandwidth, and the Observatory quadrupled it again in 2012. This enhancement and other sensitivity improvements were undertaken with our international partners to provide new scientific capabilities for the VLBA user community.

Timeline of VLBA Milestones

2007: The NRAO, in collaboration with the UC-Berkeley CASPER and South African KAT groups, and with MIT Haystack Observatory, initiated development of a new VLBA digital backend to digitize the entire span of the two available 500 MHz intermediate frequency channels.

2008: In partnership with the Max Planck Institut fur Radioastronomie, completed the 22 GHz amplifier replacement, resulting in  30% sensitivity improvement.

2010: Completed conversion of the VLBA to higher-bandwidth software correlator. Initial deployment of new recording system at  antenna stations. Initiated conversion of VLBA to subscriber facility, with an emphasis on Key Science Projects.

2009-2011: Expand data recording media pool and software correlator processor cluster. Complete full correlator commissioning.

2011-2012: Complete implementation of 500 MHz bandwidth capability, new VLBA digital backends, and upgrade to wideband C-band receivers.