Thursday, September 9, 1999

Civilian researchers can
use Maui telescope

Star-Bulletin staff


Civilian researchers will be allowed to use the advanced Air Force telescope on Haleakala under a program with the National Science Foundation.

Joseph Janni, director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, said his office is providing $1 million a year for two years for civilian scientists and astronomers to work on Maui. The amount to be contributed by the foundation hasn't been finalized yet.

Janni recently discussed the joint program at a conference on Maui.

The 3.67-meter telescope, known as the Advanced Electro-Optical System, is the world's largest telescope capable of tracking satellites.

It can be used by many groups or institutions because its light can be channeled through mirrors to seven independent "experimental suites" below the telescope.

The overall facility is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate and controlled by the U.S. Space Command.

It is known as the Maui Space Surveillance System, part of a network to identify and pinpoint objects in space.

The system is being equipped with lasers and a mirror that can change its shape to remove the atmosphere's distorting effects. When it is completed next summer, scientists are expected to get clear images of space objects.

The complex includes sensors that can provide radiometry and photometry and long-wave infrared and visible images. The instruments also include a 1.6-meter telescope system, 1.2-meter twin telescopes, a 0.8-meter beam director-tracker and a 0.6-meter laser beam director.

Maj. Gen. Richard Paul, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the program with the science foundation "is a win-win situation for both the Air Force and the research community."

"The research being conducted with these telescopes can lead to improvements in our space surveillance efforts while providing the researchers with access to a new top-notch telescope facility," he said.

Institutions interested in using the facility may call Dr. Herb Carlson at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va., (703) 696-7551, or Paul Kervin with the laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate on Maui, (808) 874-1541.

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