Maui Business

New Guidestar at Haleakalā Emits Orange Beam

May 16, 2017, 8:51 AM HST
* Updated May 16, 3:51 PM
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The Guidestar, or NaGS, propagates light into the sodium layer of Earth’s mesosphere, enabling atmospheric characterization on dim objects and providing clearer imagery. PC: The Air Force Research Laboratory. PC: 5.15.17 by Dr. Robert Fugate

A new Sodium Guidestar became operational on Monday, sending an orange beam of light into the sky over the Maui Space Surveillance Complex near the summit at Haleakalā on Maui.

The MSSC, operated by the Air Force Research Laboratory, has begun operating the new Guidestar as part of a recently-completed modernization of facilities.

The Guidestar, or NaGS, propagates light into the sodium layer of Earth’s mesosphere, enabling atmospheric characterization on dim objects and providing clearer imagery. This guidestar laser technology is currently in use at observatories around the world.

The Guidestar, or NaGS, propagates light into the sodium layer of Earth’s mesosphere, enabling atmospheric characterization on dim objects and providing clearer imagery. PC: The Air Force Research Laboratory.

The NaGS is being propagated 30 degrees or more above the horizon from the existing AEOS 3.6-meter telescope. Visible light emitted will be orange in color as opposed to the blue and green (in the visible spectrum) beams emitted before the modernization upgrades. The augmentations have been done within already-existing structures at the complex.

Area residents and visitors may take notice of operations as the NaGS becomes operational. MSSC officials anticipate the laser may be visible from a few locations on the summit, including the Visitor’s Center and the Summit Overlook.

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Those at lower elevations will probably not notice the beam since it is usually not visible more than 1,200 meters away.

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In studies done during the planning stages for the modernization, there was no finding of any significant environmental impact for the project.

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