Artist's Impression of the VERITAS Array
To further work in high-energy gamma-ray astronomy, the Whipple group has proposed a next-generation telescope array which will be 10 times more sensitive than the existing Whipple telescope. In fact, the proposed new facility, called VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System), will be the most sensitive detector of its type in the world. The observations with VERITAS will be a key to understanding many physical processes in nature.

The array will consist of four 39-foot-aperture optical telescopes placed in a Mercedes pattern. Each large reflector will have a 499-pixel camera at its focus.

Since there is no other way to investigate these processes on Earth, the research done with VERITAS represents a rare use of "natural laboratories" in space to study the most powerful sources of electromagnetic energy known to science.

The construction of VERITAS has been endorsed by several national scientific panels and advisory groups. It will complement the next gamma-ray space telescope, GLAST, which is scheduled for launch by NASA in 2005.

VERITAS will be a truly national and international facility, promoting cooperation and collaboration with scores of scientific groups around the world. For example, the VERITAS collaboration will include not only members of the current Whipple Collaboration, but new groups from the University of Chicago, the University of Utah, the University of Chicago and McGill University in Montreal.

The construction of VERITAS is part of a continuing effort to provide U.S. astronomers with first-rate observing facilities so that they can maintain their leadership in astronomical scientific research and provide our students with first-rate training facilities. VERITAS will attract the attention of the world scientific community and will be an intellectual highlight of the Santa Cruz Valley.

The total cost of the VERITAS project is estimated to be $20.7 million. The annual operating and maintenance costs are estimated to be $1.5 million. Support for VERITAS is expected to be shared between the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and funding agencies of the United Kingdom and Ireland.