Sure a good programmer will learn any programming language very fast. The thing that takes time to learn is the compiler, and the standard libraries available with that language and compiler. A good programmer knows his compiler inside out, that you can not necessarily pick up in a fortnight.
Active Seti points out a story about upgrades for the Very Large Array radio telescope. The improvements will increase the VLA's capabilities 10-fold, allowing it to "pick up a cell phone signal on Jupiter." Work on the 28-antenna array is already underway, and it is expected to finish by 2012. From Scientific American: "Data gathered by all 28 of the 82-foot- (25-meter-) diameter dish antennas are brought to a correlator--a central, special-purpose computer--which merges the input into a form that allows scientists to produce detailed, high-quality images of the astronomical objects under investigation. A new fiber-optic system replaces the older waveguide system for taking data collected by the receivers to the central control building and increases the amount of data that can be delivered from the antenna to the new $17-million correlator being built by Canadian scientists and engineers to handle the increased data flow."