Haystack Observatory

MIT Haystack Observatory provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student research in radio astronomy, geodesy, atmospheric sciences, and informatics.

Haystack Observatory holds a worldwide leadership position in the development and deployment of the Very Long Baseline (VLBI) technique, which uses a global array of radio telescopes to make high-resolution observations of galactic and extragalactic radio sources and to perform precision geodetic studies of the Earth's plate tectonics and motions in space. Using radio telescopes at Haystack and elsewhere around the world, the observatory supports strong programs in both science and technology using VLBI, including unique mm-wavelength observations of the black hole at the center of our galaxy on event-horizon scales.

High-power radars using 46-m and 67-m antennas are used, in conjunction with a variety of other techniques, to study the structure and dynamics of Earth's upper atmosphere. Emphasis is given to the study of the effects of geomagnetic storms induced by solar disturbances on Earth's ionosphere as well as the coupling of atmospheric layers. Haystack researchers also study thermal effects in the upper atmosphere, including signatures associated with global climate change.

A strong instrumentation development program is conducted at Haystack Observatory, particularly in the areas of wideband signal processing and high-rate data acquisition. Current applications include the design of large radio arrays to improve the flexibility and sensitivity of radio observations, as well as ultra-broadband receiving systems for VLBI measurements. These innovative instruments offer rich opportunities for unique astrophysical, heliospheric, and ionospheric science.

Opportunities exist for students to get involved in all these projects and use the facility instrumentation for research investigations.

The Haystack Observatory is located in Westford, Massachusetts, about 45 minutes northwest of Cambridge. For further information, email or call 617-715-5400.