The iconic Very Large Array, a radio telescope located in a New Mexico, has gone high-tech and digital. 

It is about to finish its amazing transformation, which began in 2001 and is scheduled to complete next year, according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The organization listed the following upgrades to the Very Large Array, which previously sported 1970s-vintage electronics:

- enhancement of some technical abilities by factors of as much as 8,000

- enhancement of sensitivity to faint radio emissions from distant astronomical objects

- ability to cover three times more radio frequencies  

- state-of-the-art electronics

- an all-digital, high-bandwidth data-transmission system

-  a new, superfast central supercomputer that revolutionizes scientists' ability to optimize their observations and exquisitely analyze their results

The Very Large Array's looks, however, will remain largely unchanged.  (Photos below from NRAO/AUI/NSF)


To reflect the technological changes, though, the Very Large Array needs a new name, stated the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The organization is soliciting ideas for the new name from the public and scientific community.  Online submission will be accepted here until Dec. 1.

The Very Large Array, inaugurated in 1980, has allowed over 2,500 scientists to conduct over 13,000 observing projects.

It has also been referenced numerous times in popular culture, mostly recently in the beginning of the blockbuster film Transformers: Dark of the Moon.