Haleakala Telescopes

IfA Telescopes



Zodiacal Light Observatory

TLRS-4 Laser Ranging System


Partnering Telescopes

Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

Advanced Electro-Optical System [AEOS]

Tohoku Telescope

LCO Faulkes Observatory


The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System

Pan-STARRS is the largest single research project at the Institute for Astronomy.

The first telescope, Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) is a 1.8-meter diameter telescope located near the summit of Haleakala on the Island of Maui. It is equipped with the world’s largest digital camera, with almost 1.4 billion pixels.

A similar telescope, Pan-STARRS2 (PS2), has been constructed adjacent to PS1, and is expected to be operational in October 2017. It has a similar, but slightly larger digital camera, with almost 1.5 billion pixels.

The operation of the Pan-STARRS telescopes is mostly funded by the NASA Near Earth Observation Program. Each night, PS1 observes about 1,000 square degrees of the night sky, using a sequence of four exposures that span a period of about an hour. The images are compared to each other, and objects that move during the one hour period are identified. Objects that have unusual motions that make them likely to be Near Earth Objects are immediately reported to the Minor Planet Center, and a worldwide network of telescopes obtains additional observations of these Near Earth Object candidates to determine their orbits and sizes, and to determine whether any of them pose a threat to the Earth. The positions and brightnesses of all other moving objects are also reported to the Minor Planet Center, usually within 12 hours of observation.

Pan-STARRS1 is the world’s leading Near Earth Object discovery telescope. It presently discovers over half of the larger Near Earth Objects (diameter > 140 meters). Pan-STARRS1 is also very efficient at discovering new comets, discovering more than half of all new comets discovered each year since 2014.

The telescope is operated from the IfA’s Advanced Technology Research Center in Maui. Images from the telescope are transferred via a high-speed data connection to a powerful computer cluster for analysis.

Access to data from Pan-STARRS multicolor survey of the sky is available from the PS1 public data page.


Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System

ATLAS is an asteroid impact early warning system being developed by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA. It consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects.

ATLAS will provide one day’s warning for a 30-kiloton “town killer,” a week for a 5-megaton “city killer,” and three weeks for a 100-megaton “county killer”.


Transportable Laser Ranging System 4

The University of Hawaii IfA is operating and maintaining the TLRS-4 at the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site (HO) at Haleakala on the island of Maui under a contract with NASA/GSFC.

Laser Ranging has been part of UH IfA operations at HO since 1972. The LURE Observatory was established at HO under contract to NASA, and was operated by the UH IfA during the period 1972-2004. During this time, LURE provided NASA/GSFC with extremely accurate measurements of the distance to the Moon and to artificial Earth satellites. This is accomplished by bouncing very short pulses of laser light off special reflectors left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts and installed on satellites orbiting the earth. By accurately timing the round-trip time of flight of these pulses, distances can be computed and precise orbits determined. These data are used to acquire fundamental information about the geophysical processes of the Earth and the Earth-Moon system. For a more complete description of LR, visit the ILRS web site.

The LURE Observatory contract expired in July 2004, and the site is presently being used by the Pan-STARRS project. The primary rationale for the TLRS-4 at HO is to maintain the time-series of SLR data produced by LURE. This is critical to the investigation of the long period geophysical phenomena being studied. Further, the loss of the only SLR site in the Northern Pacific Ocean has degraded the accuracy of satellite orbits derived from the data produced by the worldwide system of SLR sites.

The TLRS-4is a fully operational SLR system contained in a 21.8 x 8.3 x 7.8 foot trailer. A support trailer of similar size, but on wheels, will complete the system. Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. built the system under contract to NASA/GSFC.

The electronics trailer weighs 15,000 pounds, and is set on an existing 24 x 15 x 1 foot concrete pad located approximately 40 meters west of the Mees Observatory. The support trailer is parked close to the western wall of the Mees Observatory.

Zodiacal Light Observatory

In the Zodiacal Light Observatory  is the SOLARC instrument is a 0.5 meter, off-axis corona graphic reflecting telescope with a fiber-fed imaging spectropolarimeter. The telescope is used for a number of solar and coronal experiments.

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