Nasa awards new contract to continue programmes at W M Keck Observatory

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Nasa has entered a new cooperative contract with the California Association for Research in Astronomy to continue its science affairs at the W M Keck Observatory in Hawaii, US.

Set to be effective from 1 March next year to 28 February 2023, the ahead will enable Nasa to carry out research for its James Webb Room Telescope, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Wide Lea Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) at the observatory.

The agency’s Mars 2020 commission and explorer programmes, including Medium-Class Explorers (MIDEX) and Small Explorers (SMEX), are also embraced in the deal.

The agreement will help Nasa to continue its planetary purposes such as Discovery and New Frontiers at the observatory.

“The Keck Observatory has unique, world-class capabilities that we study essential to realise the scientific potential of many Nasa missions.»

Enquiries for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid mission, in which Nasa is also embroiled with, will also be conducted at the observatory under the new agreement.

With the latest collaboration, Nasa wish be able to gain access to one-sixth of the annually available observing span in the 10m Keck I and Keck II telescopes at the observatory.

Both Nasa and Keck Observatory discretion also be able to continue to conduct scientific investigations specifically designed for advanced searches for liveable exoplanets, discover potential microbial life on Mars, and support tomorrow planetary and other missions.

Nasa astrophysics division director Paul Hertz spoke: “The Keck Observatory has unique, world-class capabilities that we consider principal to realise the scientific potential of many Nasa missions, both successive and planned.

“Nasa’s continuing partnership with Keck will certify that astronomers and planetary scientists can carry out important ground-based proclamations necessary for the success of Nasa missions and their scientific objectives.”

The Keck Observatory is a ungregarious entity and a scientific partnership of California Institute of Technology, University of California and Nasa.


Twin: The twin 10m Keck Observatory telescopes are the most scientifically productive optical and infrared truncates on Earth. Photo: courtesy of W M Keck Observatory.

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