V.L. Baseline Array
In Iowa, United States
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This geocache will take you to a giant VLBA (Very Long Baseline Array) antenna/dish near North Liberty, IA. The VLBA is a system of ten radio-telescope antennas, each with a dish 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter and weighing 240 tons. Only eight are in the continental United States! Each telescope is controlled remotely from the Array Operations Center in Socorro, New Mexico, that work together as the world's largest dedicated, full-time astronomical instrument.
For this geocache, you'll have a nice short .10 walk along a grass trail from the parking area. At the coordinates, you will be looking for an ammocan, and their is a nice view of the giant antenna/dish from this location. You'll also find a few survey makers in the area and a very cool monument: a GPS STATION MARK! It's located about 100ft south of the geocache. See if you can find the inscription.
The driveway entrance to the VLBA is hard to see until you're right on top of it. The antenna/dish can not be seen from the roadway, as it's nestled back into the woods. We suggest getting on Mehaffey Bridge Road [the main road between North Liberty and Lake MacBride State Park] and plugging the following coordinates into your GPS as they are the coordinates to the entrance. Look for blue road sign# 2269. N 41° 46.120 W 091° 34.330
Upon entering, you'll drive down a long driveway to get to the array.
VLBA FUN FACTS:
- Two technicians are in control of the North Liberty VLBA. One of them must be within two hours of the Operations Center at all times.
- The VLBA sees millions of light years deeper into space than the Hubble Telescope.
- The North Liberty VLBA fills a 6 Terabyte hard drive weekly. Sometimes faster. The technicians have to swap them out when full.
- The VLBA antenna/dish's were seen in such movies as "CONTACT" with Jodie Foster, "2012" with John Cusack, and the recent "TRANSFORMERS: DARKSIDE OF THE MOON (the third movie) with Shia Labeouf & Optimus Prime.
The other nine VLBA sites are located at:
(You can see a [very cool] photo of each VLBA Station at each link)
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Owens Valley, California
Hancock, New Hampshire
Kitt Peak, Arizona
Pie Town, New Mexico
Fort Davis, Texas
Los Alamos, New Mexico
St. Croix, The Virgin Islands
Special thank you to TJ&DJ for informing us about this special place.
Permission granted by the North Liberty VLBA Operations Center.
Quote from the NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) website:
Radio astronomy is the study of the invisible universe. We see the world around us because our eyes detect visible light, a type of electromagnetic radiation. Objects on Earth and in space also emit other types of electromagnetic radiation that cannot be seen by the human eye, such as radio waves. The full range of radiation emitted by an object is called its electromagnetic spectrum.
Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that emit radio waves. With radio astronomy, scientists can study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
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Last Updated: on 6/26/2015 3:02:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time (10:02 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum