Mauna Kea



09 Measurements up Mauna Kea

The KAO experiment did not allow flux measurements to be made at intermediate altitudes. Two days later, I continued the experiment while driving from sea level to the Summit (13,700 ft) of the Mauna Kea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

10 Summit of Mauna Kea

The summit of this (hopefully) extinct volcano is austerely beautiful. It is at an elevation of 13,700 ft (4200 m) and the deep blue color of the sky shows that we are above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere. We are also above 40% of the air. It is surprising and scary when you realize how difficult it is to breathe. This is the site of many of the world's premier observatories. The crater is draped with a necklace of telescope domes.

11 The Keck II telescope

On the summit of Mauna Kea, The Keck I and II telescopes (at 10-meter diameters) are the largest in the world. Their mirrors are each made up of 36 hexagonal segments. This made the grinding operation very complex but greatly reduced the enormous problems of cooling, and grinding huge monolithic slabs of glass that sag under their own weight. This pair of telescopes, through the use of optical interferometry and adaptive optics, is able to perform as the equivalent of a single mirror of 85-meter diameter!