NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has begun construction of domed building at its Table Mountain site to house 48-inch optical telescope acquired from the U.S. Air Force.

The telescope will be the largest of five to be in operation next year at the JPl facility in the San Gabriel Mountains 60 miles north of JPL, said Dr. Daniel McCleese, manager of JPL's Earth and Space Sciences Division.

"It will return the Table Mountain facility to international prominence in the field of astronomy," McCleese said, "and, together with charged-coupled devices and infrared array cameras and spectrometers developed at JPL, will put the facility in the research forefront of planetary astronomy."

Charge-coupled devices (CCDs) electronically record individual photons and store them in digital form. spectrometer measures the wavelengths of emissions from star.

The 7,500 feet high Table Mountain site currently has three telescopes in operation and Pomona College is building 40-inch telescope at the site.

Groundbreaking for the new observatory began May 10. Construction of the building and dome is expected to be completed in January 1989 at total cost of about $600,000. software and hardware testing and check out period will last through April, McCleese said.

The Air Force used the telescope to track satellites, he said, but built larger facility making the 48-inch instrument redundant. It was donated to JPL through the National Science Foundation at no cost to the NASA center.

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