UH telescope atop Mauna Kea to get a big upgrade as it turns 50

A UH telescope is getting a big upgrade.
A UH telescope is getting a big upgrade.(University of Hawaii)
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 3:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A team of University of Hawaii astronomers has been awarded a $1 million grant to upgrade the institution’s 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea.

The upgrades will allow the telescope to perform large surveys by responding almost instantaneously to new discoveries. Traditionally, telescope observing requires several people to operate the telescope and other instruments.

Additional upgrades include a new telescope control system and scheduler and safety system.

“What this amounts to is a leap in productivity and accuracy for astronomical research,” said Institute for Astronomy associate astronomer Christoph Baranec, in a news release. “The time saved with this increased efficiency will allow us to offer many more opportunities to both the research and education communities.”

The telescope, also known as the UH88, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

Astronomers used the telescope for technological and scientific advancements.

Most notably, the telescope was used to discover the Kuiper belt, a region of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

UH88 also became the first telescope on Maunakea to operate without any staff at the facility at night.

The funding will also provide workforce development for students interested in science and technology, such as internships and school programs.

“This is a unique educational experience and a wonderful opportunity for local students in Hilo and around Hawaiʻi to gain the experience necessary to attain good, stable jobs,” said IfA Hilo Associate Director Mark Chun, in a news release. “In addition to the local personnel already on staff, we’re training the next generation in cutting edge technology right here in Hilo.”

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