by Louise Good
|People gathered outside the PS1 dome on
Haleakala during the dedication ceremonies.
Photo by Rob Ratkowski, HAA Maui
The University of Hawaii's newest telescope, called PS1, was dedicated
on Friday, June 30 in a ceremony on the summit of Haleakala. The telescope
is a prototype for the larger Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response
System, or Pan-STARRS, telescope scheduled to start scanning the skies
for "killer asteroids" in 2010.
Institute for Astronomy Director Rolf Kudritzki described the dedication
of PS1 as "a historic event, since Pan-STARRS is the most important
University of Hawaii telescope project in 30 years." PS1 achieved "first
light" in late June, when engineers obtained test images of a number
The telescope's mirror is only 71 inches in diameter, much smaller than
the twin Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, whose mirrors are nearly 400 inches
each. What will make PS1 unique is that it will be equipped with the world's
largest digital camera, which is currently under construction at the IfA's
Manoa headquarters. This camera will contain 1.4 billion pixels—about
300 times more than are found in a typical commercial digital camera.
Once operational in early 2007, PS1 will produce about 2000 gigabytes
of data each night, most of which will be sent by optical fiber to be analyzed
at the Maui High Performance Computing Center in Kihei. The telescope will
survey the whole sky every few days to find celestial objects that change
or move. In addition to discovering millions of asteroids, some of which
might pose a danger to Earth, PS1 will collect data to help answer questions
in areas ranging from our solar system to the entire observable Universe.
The data will be analyzed by Hawaii astronomers and members of an international
|Mayor Alan Arakawa untied the ceremonial lei. Photo by Gary Fujihara
In his speech at the dedication, Kudritzki noted that PS1 is the first
astronomy project to be constructed on Haleakala following the guidelines
established in the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site Long Range
Development Plan. Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. provided the "sense
of place" training for all PS1 construction personnel, and he also
served as the cultural monitor who oversaw all construction.
According to Hawaiian oral history, the ancient Hawaiian astronomers and
their students studied the sky from Puu Kolekole on the summit of Haleakala.
The culmination of the dedication ceremony was the blessing of the building
by two of Maxwell's grandsons, Adrian Kamalaniikekai Kamalii and
Dane Uluwehiokalani Maxwell, and the untying of the maile lei, an
act of respect, an expression of sense of place, and an explicit acknowledgment
of the ancient Hawaiian astronomers who first observed the Universe from
The dedication ceremony included a welcome message by Kudritzki, greetings
by Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, an introduction by Pan-STARRS Principal
Investigator Nick Kaiser, speeches by Principal Under-Scretary of Defense
for Policy Christopher "Ryan" Henry, Air Force Research Laboratory
Branch Chief Jim Riker, and UH Vice-Chancellor for Research and Graduate
Education Gary Ostrander, and a video message from Senator Daniel Inouye.
EOS Technologies, based in Tucson, Arizona and Canberra, Australia, built
the telescope and its enclosure. Corning Inc., Rayleigh Optical Corporation,
and Evaporated Metal Films Inc. developed the primary and secondary mirrors.
Pan-STARRS Principal Investigator Nick Kaiser gave a tour of the
new telescope to Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.
Photo by Rob Ratkowski, HAA Maui