ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With big changes coming to the Very Large Array near Socorro, space science researchers will need an operations center for data processing. Now, the University of New Mexico is stepping up to fill that role.

The Very Large Array is getting an expansion to increase the radio telescope’s sensitivity and resolution. The project, called the “Next-Generation Very Large Array” or the “ngVLA.” The telescope expansion is still under design, but now the University of New Mexico (UNM) is joining in on the project.

“UNM is excited to be working with NRAO [the National Radio Astronomy Observatory] on the next generation of this facility, which will probe the universe and reveal new insights about the evolution of galaxies and the formation of terrestrial planets. This work will help to keep our state and our University at the forefront of human understanding of the Universe in which we live,” James Holloway, UNM provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said in a press release.

UNM has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of making UNM home to a data processing and operation center for the ngVLA.

“This partnership with NRAO to support the Next-Generation Very Large Array could bring more than 200 of the world’s best radio astronomers and engineers to the UNM campus, resulting in unparalleled education and training opportunities for UNM’s astronomy students and hundreds of new, high-paying jobs in New Mexico,” Chris Lippitt, the associate dean for research at the UNM College of Arts & Sciences, said in a press release.