Notice of Intent sent to Decadal Panel January 14th 2009

Activity Name:

Milliarcsecond Optical/Infrared Science: Access to Interferometry for the Community – (MOISAIC) sponsored by the United States Interferometric Consortium (USIC)

Activity PoC:

Michelle Creech-Eakman, USIC Chair
Theo ten Brummelaar, USIC Vice-Chair


One paragraph description of activity’s goals:

We wish to advocate for leveraging the nation’s investment in interferometric technology and in facility-class optical arrays already/shortly in operation. With some modest changes to current funding models and a small investment in the interferometric community’s support structure, NSF can provide a funding opportunity to partially support operations of existing interferometers in exchange for open access to the U.S. scientific community through the O/IR System. This funding will also support technology development and preliminary planning for a next generation optical array and for future space-based facilities in the following decade.

Sponsor: NSF

Participating individuals or institutions:

Facility Name (Acronym) – Funding and operating agencies/partners:
  • Center for High-Angular Resolution Astronomy Array (CHARA Array) – National Science Foundation (NSF), Georgia State University, W. M. Keck Foundation, State of Georgia
  • Infrared Spatial Interferometer (ISI) - National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), Univ of California - Berkeley
  • Keck Interferometer (KI) -- NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI), W.M. Keck Observatory
  • Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) -- NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI), Univ of Arizona
  • Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI) – New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Univ of Cambridge, Office of Naval Research (ONR)
  • Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI) – Oceanographer for the Navy (CNMOC), Office of Naval Research (ONR), Lowell Observatory
  • National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO)
  • United States Interferometry Consortium (USIC) including over 100 contributing members.

Current status:

Optical interferometry is following a pattern of development parallel to that of radio interferometry. A vigorous technology program has enabled a strong facility-class interferometry capability in the U.S., with several operating arrays of up to 6 telescopes. These arrays have different, unique observing capabilities, and most are in full-time operation, carrying out unprecedented sub-milliarcsecond resolution science in stellar and extragalactic physics. Presently most of these facilities are supported mainly for collaborative or mission-oriented operation. The interferometry community is eager to open these facilities to peer-reviewed access, but lacks resources to support such access. There is currently no funding opportunity available for this purpose (e.g. optical arrays are not explicitly eligible for TSIP and other types of observatory funding.)

A 2006 national workshop on the future of ground-based optical interferometry, organized and sponsored by NOAO, has developed a roadmap for technology development, with the objective of supporting preliminary planning for a next generation optical array in the 2020 time frame. As a community we believe this next decade is ripe for both making tremendous insights into many stellar phenomena, and developing the technology necessary for a next-generation facility.

Web/FTP site with additional information:

See the Optical Long Baseline Interferometry Newsletter (OLBIN) website: for information on individual projects and the community.