The ARC, or Array Relay Cell, serves as a field controller for Station 12’s interferometer. Each of the twenty dishes can be manipulated from the ARC directly, or interfaced on the network from a remote location, such as the Brownstone.
If communication is broken between the lab and the ARC, an operator can work directly from the Cell until communication is restored. Signals that are received from each dish are crunched and combined at the ARC, so it’s more than just a relay device, it’s also a processing hub.
Signal combination can be performed with software on the lab’s servers, but it is very slow and used as a last resort if the ARC is damaged (or burned to the ground by drunken station operators).
The size of the ARC really depends on the environment. At Station151 in Antarctica, where construction and materials costs are astronomical (no pun intended), the ARC is small and can barely fit one operator and his husky. At Station12, however, the ARC could easily house a crowd of astrophysicists and is great for public tours of the facilities or escaping the hell on Earth that is Bon Jovi.