Press Release

U.S. High School Students to Control Web Telescope in Chile

By SpaceRef Editor
July 17, 2002
Filed under , ,

In just a few months, a group of U.S. high school students will be able to
view the night sky from south of the equator as they ‘beta’ test a
remote-control telescope in Chile via the Internet.

By mid 2003, students nationwide will be able to control the telescope and
charge- coupled device (CCD) cameras in real time via the World Wide Web to
observe celestial objects from Las Campanas, Chile. The CCD cameras are
similar to consumer digital cameras but are more sensitive. In addition,
NASA’s Telescopes in Education (TIE) program will provide access to the
telescope by international scholars. TIE, Pasadena, Calif., deployed the
14-inch subreflector telescope, and NASA provided a CCD camera.

“This facility represents a fundamental breakthrough for high school
students, enabling them to access a remotely controlled observatory located
in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Mark Leon, learning technologies project
manager of the Southern Telescopes in Education Project at NASA Ames
Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The program enables students to increase their knowledge of astronomy,
astrophysics and mathematics; improve their computer literacy; and
strengthen their critical thinking skills, according to Leon. In addition to
U.S. students, the program is collaborating with Chilean academia and high

Hands-on training in Chile as well as on-line Internet interviews and
presentations will be part of the program. Organizers hope to provide
educators with this training so they can integrate hands-on astronomy into
their science curricula.

The project in Chile was inspired by TIE, which in 1998 automated a
telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in southern California to operate
remotely via the Internet. Earlier, in 1995, the TIE facility began
operating via direct modem dial-up connections. The system at Mount Wilson
enables students to conduct research, make discoveries in astronomy and
astrophysics and publish these discoveries in science journals and other
media. Students remotely control the telescope in California using special
software and can see and hear the telescope move via live audio and video
Internet links.

In September 1999, an investigative team visited Chile to begin a formal
collaboration to begin the process of setting up a telescope aimed at the
southern skies. The observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
and NASA Ames agreed to establish the Southern TIE effort. NASA signed a
memorandum with the Carnegie Institution of Washington to formalize the

Miqueil Roth, director of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
Observatory, Las Campanas, Chile, is manages the program in Chile. Leon is
the NASA Ames manager for the Chilean project.

More information about the Southern Telescopes in Education Program – Chile
can be found on the World Wide Web at this URL:

TIE is a program sponsored by NASA and developed through the efforts of
numerous volunteers, businesses and supporting organizations including the
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, Calif. The Learning Technology Program, a part of NASA’s Education
Technology Program, funds the TIE program.

High-resolution images related to this news release, and available for use