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Telescope Gets Second Life as Part-time Debris Hunter

Telescope Gets Second Life as Part-time Debris Hunter

U.K. Infrared Telescope (UKIRT). Credit: U.K. Science & Technology Facilities
U.K. Infrared Telescope (UKIRT). Credit: U.K. Science & Technology Facilities

WASHINGTON — A large ground-based telescope useful for studying orbital debris as well as traditional astronomical targets has been given a second life under a cooperative agreement involving NASA, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the University of Hawaii and the University of Arizona.

The 3.8-meter infrared telescope — one of the largest dedicated infrared telescopes in the world and once on track for closure — is part of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory. Built in the 1970s for Great Britain, the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope was owned by the U.K. Science & Technology Facilities Council until Oct. 31, when ownership transferred to the University of Hawaii. 

“Our team, composed of the universities of Arizona and Hawaii and NASA, will extend the life of this important telescope,” Matthew Bold, Lockheed Martin program manager, said in a Nov. 6 press release. “We plan to grow capability and continue addressing pressing questions about our universe, as well as the space surrounding our planet.”

Lockheed Martin said it is specifically using the telescope to study orbital debris.

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November 12, 2014


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