Mauna Kea telescope back up after lightning strike

Aug 20, 2011 By AUDREY McAVOY , Associated Press

(AP) -- A Mauna Kea telescope that was knocked out by lightning more than two months ago is fully operational again after undergoing repairs, the telescope's director said Friday.

The final problem was a faulty electronics card that helped synchronize the movement of the 2.2-meter telescope dome and the telescope itself. The telescope, which belongs to the University of Hawaii, became fully usable on Wednesday evening once that was fixed.

Operators "are confident that we have repaired the telescope and its sub-systems and we can continue with full night-time observing with remote operation from Hilo, Manoa, the U.S. mainland, and Europe," Colin Aspin, the director, said in an email.

The telescope went offline during the weekend of June 4-5, when tens of thousands of lightning flashes were recorded around the state.

It wasn't clear if a direct knocked out the telescope or if the problem was caused by a lightning strike on Saddle Road that affected power going to the mountain.

The 41-year-old telescope is the first large telescope ever built on Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano.

It's smaller than its more famous neighbors - including the twin Keck telescopes that have mirrors measuring 10 meters, or about 32 feet, in diameter. But the machine was the first to show Mauna Kea has some of the world's best conditions for observing the skies.

In the early 1990s, astronomers used it to discover the existence of the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond Neptune home to large numbers of asteroid-sized bodies. Today, is commonly regarded as the largest known Kuiper Belt Object, not as the ninth planet.

Other telescopes at the volcano summit have also had problems this year.

The was shut down last month after leaked around the , including on the mirrors and camera.

Explore further: Dawn spacecraft captures best-ever view of dwarf planet

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Subaru 8-meter telescope damaged by leaking coolant

Jul 06, 2011

A "serious hardware incident" has shut down the Subaru Telescope indefinitely. A leak allowed orange-colored coolant to spill over the primary mirror and into the main camera, as well as into other instruments ...

China to launch solar telescope

Jul 14, 2005

China has announced completion of its first two space telescopes: a space solar telescope and a hard X-ray modulation telescope.

World's largest telescope to be built in Hawaii

Jul 22, 2009

(AP) -- Hawaii was chosen Tuesday as the site for the world's biggest telescope, a device so powerful that it will allow scientists to see some 13 billion light years away and get a glimpse into the early ...

Radical Antarctic telescope "would outdo Hubble"

Sep 16, 2004

A novel Antarctic telescope with 16-m diameter mirrors would far outperform the Hubble Space Telescope, and could be built at a tiny fraction of its cost, says a scientist from the Anglo-Australian Observatory ...

Lasers spectacular

Jun 10, 2011

The new laser on the Keck I telescope has inspired two avid Mauna Kea photographers to capture the light show in a series of stunning images and videos. We’ve collected some of their work here for your ...

Recommended for you

Dawn spacecraft captures best-ever view of dwarf planet

17 hours ago

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on Jan. 25, and represent a new milestone for ...

Image: Striking lightning from space

21 hours ago

Lightning illuminates the area it strikes on Earth but the flash can be seen from space, too. This image was taken from 400 km above Earth in 2012 by an astronaut on the International Space Station travelling ...

Are asteroids the future of planetary science?

21 hours ago

I don't think I ever learned one of those little rhymes – My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas – to memorize the order of the planets, but if I had, it would've painted for me a minimalist ...

Earth's moon may not be critical to life

23 hours ago

The Moon has long been viewed as a crucial component in creating an environment suitable for the evolution of complex life on Earth, but a number of scientific results in recent years have shown that perhaps our ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.