Montage of our solar system

Gerald S. Levy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been named recipient of the Charles Stark Draper Award by the International Aeronautical Federation for his innovative work in 3-year-long astronomical experiment.

Levy, of the science office of the Telecommunication and Data Acquisition organization, will be honored for new radio-astronomy technique using an orbiting satellite and ground antennas in Australia and Japan.

Conducting experiments from 1986 through 1988, Levy and his colleagues were able to obtain better resolutions of three quasars than that possible in any ground-based radio studies at the same wavelength.

Quasars, or quasi-stellar objects, are among the most distant objects known.

Levy led an international team of scientists and engineers which designed the technique for combining data from radio telescopes on the ground with data from an antenna on the satellite.

The team used NASA's Deep Space Network 70-meter antenna in Australia, and in Japan, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science's 64-meter antenna at Usuda, 45- meter dish of the Tokyo Astrophysical Observatory at Nobeyama and 26-meter antenna at Kashima of the Japanese Radio Research Laboratory, along with the tracking and relay satellite, TDRSS, managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The data were correlated at the Haystack Observatory in Westford, Mass.

The technique, called very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI, theoretically creates an antenna with resolution equivalent to the effective distance between the antennas, in this case distance greater than the diameter of the Earth.

The award is to be presented October 14 during the IAF Congress to be held in Bangalore, India. Levy will present paper at the meeting on the latest results of the experiment.

The Draper Award is one-time award initiated by the Paris-based foundation at its congress last October in Brighton, England. It carries $1,000 endowment offered by the Charles Stark Laboratory Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.

Draper was Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist who developed the first inertial guidance systems for aircraft, marine vessels and rockets.

His laboratory at MIT was separated from the university in 1973 and became private institution for government research.

Levy received his B.S. in physics at University of Wisconsin in 1952 and his M.S. in ionospheric physics at Pennsylvania State University in 1956.

He was earlier awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the NASA Medal For Exceptional Scientific Achievement. He joined JPL in 1959 and since 1985 has been Telecommunications and Data Acquisition Observatory Manager.

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