Work has started to use optical fibres to link up the giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank with five others that are scattered across England. The telescopes comprise an array called Merlin that combines the data from each so they perform as a larger telescope.The telescopes are currently linked by microwaves but replacing them with optical fibres will be a revolution.
Astronomers say the new project, e-Merlin, will be a great leap in Jodrell Bank's ability to look out into space.Connecting the array of radio telescopes with optical fibres will transform what is already a world-class facility. "Merlin is the first to be making this leap forward with optical fibres," says its director Professor Phil Diamond.
The interconnected array of radio telescopes called Merlin (Multi-Element Radio-Linked Interfometer Network) centred on Jodrell Bank in the north of England has been a remarkable scientific success.