Contact: Suraiya Farukhi
Columbia, MD-February 2, 2017. To the delight of local and regional astronomers, Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced the opening of the USRA Remote Observation Center at its Headquarters location in Columbia, Maryland. Astronomers in the Baltimore-Washington area can now study the distant galaxies through a facility located close to their homes. To probe the distance universe they no longer have to travel to Hawaii to use the powerful telescopes there.
This facility at USRA in Columbia, Maryland, links to the W. M. Keck Observatory on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii. The twin Keck telescopes are amongst the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes, weighing 300 tons and operating with nanometer precision studying everything from distant galaxies to planets in our solar system. The W.M. Keck Telescope is partially funded by NASA to further its mission in planetary exploration and astronomy.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and CEO, USRA, “The operation of the Remote Observation Center at USRA opens a new collaboration between USRA and the Keck Observatory that will serve the astronomical community and further the USRA mission.”
USRA’s Remote Observation Center is only one of two on the East coast, the other residing at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. “Access to the Keck telescopes from the Baltimore-DC area will greatly increase the flexibility of usage of the facilities and save considerable travel expense,” said Dr. Nicholas White, Senior Vice President, Science, at USRA. “We are very pleased to provide this service to the entire Keck user community.”
The USRA Remote Observation Center is funded solely by USRA offering this capability to the regional astronomy community. Dr. Anne Kinney, the Chief Scientist at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii said, “We are extremely pleased to see USRA offer remote access to the Keck Observatory and its telescopes that host a suite of eight state-of-the-art observing instruments to collect and analyze astronomical data. A ninth instrument will be available within a few months. ”
Information on the Remote Observation Center at USRA Headquarters is available at http://www.keck.usra.edu/.
Formed in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academies of Science, USRA offers an avenue for government and industry to engage the expertise of the academic community together with its own technical leadership, innovative R&D, operational excellence, management of premier facilities and education programs to advance space- and aeronautics-related sciences and exploration. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations.
Mauna Kea Weather Center