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In Response to The Kona Blog… Military and the Mountain Observatories

Aaron at the Konablog recently wrote a post regarding a  comment I left on his blog, and I figured I would address it on my own turf ;) (Sorry about the Fonts as I cut and pasted a lot of this)

As far as military angle,I would like some hard proof that the military is directly benefiting or using the existing telescopes. Until that point, it is simply a conspiracy theory.”

Here’s just a few links I’ll pull together real quick:

…The Pan-STARRS telescope proposed for the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island would hunt for killer asteroids that could devastate Earth, supporters say.

But most speakers at a preliminary meeting on the project Thursday in Hilo did not want to talk about the project’s task. Instead, many criticized the project’s connection to the Air Force, while others said they did not want any telescope on Mauna Kea.

…The U.S. military did it in the late 1980s, however, Thompson said in a telephone interview. At that same time, Thompson and some colleagues were working on the idea, too, and he was involved in the first successful laser guide star, generated in 1987 — also coincidentally on Mauna Kea.

Military researchers were surprised at the time, he said, and rushed to get their parallel efforts declassified in order to get credit for the breakthrough. The declassification of that material in the early 1990s helped civilian astronomers perfect the technique, Thompson said.

Today’s adaptive optics systems include the two Air Force facilities mentioned above (3-m class telescopes at the Starfire Optical Range in Albuquerque and the Advanced Electro-Optical Facility on Maui), and about half a dozen 3 -5 m class astronomical telescopes around the world. The newest additions are systems for the new generation of 8 – 10 m astronomical telescopes: the Keck I and II Telescopes and the Gemini North Telescope, all atop the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.


NOW I WOULD LIKE SOME SOLID PROOF THAT THIS BUGGAH is going to help us…. any links with facts?

3 Responses

  1. It’s funny people thinking the telescopes are working for the military, when evidence suggests that it is the military is worried about the telescopes seeing one of their birds up there. This is of course extremely unlikely, for the reasons Andrew Cooper explained.

    Another argument to reassure Damon: The military is extremely paranoid about foreign nationals, right?. If there was a military agenda, the observatories wouldn’t be crawling with foreigners – we have all sorts up there, East Europeans, Chinese, everybody – and not even a background check.

    It is true that PAN-STARRS (not currently on Mauna Kea) is partially funded by Air Force pork. It’s a long story, but again,
    it comes down to the mil being worried about what astronomers are seeing. Did I mention the military is paranoid already?

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