Status Report

NASA – National Environmental Policy Act Outrigger Telescopes Project

By SpaceRef Editor
February 12, 2005
Filed under ,

[Federal Register: February 11, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 28)]
[Page 7310-7311]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []


[Notice (05-022)]

National Environmental Policy Act; Outrigger Telescopes Project

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Final Environmental Impact
Statement (FEIS) for the Outrigger Telescopes Project.

SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as
amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental
Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA
(40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), and NASA policy and procedures (14 CFR Part
1216 Subpart 1216.3), NASA has prepared and issued a FEIS for the
proposed Outrigger Telescopes Project. NASA’s Proposed Action and
preferred alternative is to fund the Outrigger Telescopes Project at
the W.M. Keck Observatory within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve on the
summit of Mauna Kea, Island of Hawai’i. The FEIS addresses alternative
sites and the environmental and cultural resource impacts that could
potentially occur with on-site construction, installation, and
operation of four, and possibly up to six, Outrigger Telescopes. The
proposed Outrigger Telescopes would be strategically placed around the
existing Keck I and Keck II Telescopes, within the current footprint of
W.M. Keck Observatory. A reasonable alternative site has been
identified on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. Sites for a reduced
science option have been identified at Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar in

DATES: NASA will not issue a Record of Decision (ROD) or take final
action on the proposed Outrigger Telescopes Project before March 21,
2005, or 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Notice of
Availability of the FEIS for the Outrigger Telescopes Project,
whichever is later.

ADDRESSES: NASA has sent a hard copy of the FEIS to each library within
the Hawai’i State Public Library System and to Regional Libraries.
Specific addresses for Hawai’i State and Regional Libraries can be
found in the appropriate telephone directory and online at
Hard copies of the FEIS

are also available for review at certain California State Public
Libraries (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). The FEIS also may be
reviewed at the following locations:

(a) NASA Headquarters, Library, Room 1J20, 300 E Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20546-0001;

(b) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Visitors Lobby, Building 249, 4800
Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109; and

(c) Legislative Reference Bureau, Room 004, State Capitol,
Honolulu, HI 96813.

Limited hard copies of the FEIS are available by contacting Dr.
Carl B. Pilcher at the address or telephone number indicated below. The
FEIS is also available in Acrobat[reg] format at
(click on “News and Outreach”, then on

“Outrigger Telescopes”).

Executive, Universe Division, Suite 3W39; NASA Headquarters; 300 E
Street, SW; Washington, DC 20546-0001; telephone 877-283-1977 (toll-
free), electronic mail, or facsimile 202-358-3096.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Outrigger Telescopes Project is a key
element in NASA’s Origins Program. The Origins Program addresses two
fundamental questions: (1) How do galaxies, stars, and planets form?
(i.e., “Where do we come from?”); and (2) Are there planets, aside
from ours, that have the conditions necessary to support life? (i.e.,
“Are we alone?”). The Outrigger Telescopes Project has four
scientific objectives that contribute to achieving the goals of the
Origins Program:

1. Detect the astrometric signature (i.e., the wobble of a star due
to the gravitational influence of an unseen planetary companion) of
planets as small as Uranus.

2. Make images of proto-stellar disks (i.e.+, disks of dust and gas
in space believed to be an early stage of star formation) and stellar
debris disks (i.e., clouds of gas or other material remaining after the
star is formed).

3. Provide high-resolution information about some faint objects
outside our galaxy.

4. Make high-resolution observations of objects within the solar
system, including asteroids, comets, and outer planets.

The first of these four objectives can be accomplished by linking
the Outrigger Telescopes together as an interferometer. An
interferometer combines the light from two or more separate telescopes
so that they act as a single large telescope. The last three objectives
require that the Outrigger Telescopes be linked as an interferometer to
at least one 8-meter (m) (26-feet (ft)) or larger telescope.
NASA proposes to fund the Outrigger Telescopes Project at the W.M.
Keck Observatory site located within the Astronomy Precinct in the
Mauna Kea Science Reserve on the summit of Mauna Kea, Island of
Hawai’i. The W.M. Keck Observatory is the site of the two largest
optical telescopes in the world–the twin 10-m (33-ft) Keck I and Keck
II. The Outrigger Telescopes Project, if fully implemented as proposed,
would consist of up to six 1.8-m (6-ft) telescopes placed strategically
around the two existing Keck Telescopes.

The California Association for Research in Astronomy, a non-profit
corporation established by the University of California and California
Institute of Technology, operates and maintains the W.M. Keck
Observatory. The W.M. Keck Observatory site (approximately 2-hectare
(ha)(5-acre (ac)) is located within the Astronomy Precinct and is
subleased to the California Institute of Technology by the University
of Hawai’i. The Astronomy Precinct encompasses approximately 212 ha
(525 ac) of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve (4,568 ha (11,288 ac)). The
Mauna Kea Science Reserve is leased to the University of Hawai’i by the
State of Hawai’i.

Due to present funding constraints, only four Outrigger Telescopes
would initially be installed and operated, although the foundations for
six would be constructed. It is anticipated that the on-site
construction and installation of four of the six Outrigger Telescopes,
along with on-site construction of the underground structures for
Telescopes 5 and 6, would begin in 2005, with initial operations
anticipated in 2007. If funding were to become available, the
aboveground construction and installation of Telescopes 5 and 6 would
likely begin no earlier than 2007.

In addition to the W.M. Keck Observatory site, alternative sites
with at least one existing 8-m (26-ft) or larger telescope are considered in
the FEIS. The Gran Telescopio Canarias site at the Roque de los
Muchachos Observatory on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands, Spain
meets the criteria to be considered as a reasonable alternative site.

If NASA cannot or decides not to implement the Outrigger Telescopes
Project at the W.M. Keck Observatory site or at the reasonable
alternative site in the Canary Islands, NASA would consider sites where
at least the one objective that does not require a large telescope
(i.e., detect the astrometric signature of planets as small as Uranus)
can be achieved. Such reduced science sites considered in the FEIS
include the Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County, California
and the Mount Palomar Observatory in northern San Diego County,
California. The FEIS also addresses the No-Action alternative.

The FEIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts associated
with the on-site construction, installation, and operation of the
Outrigger Telescopes at the W.M. Keck Observatory site and the Canary
Islands site. The potential environmental impacts at the reduced
science sites are also evaluated. Environmental issues emphasized
include, but are not necessarily limited to, cultural resources, flora
and fauna, sewage and hydrology, hazardous materials, and cumulative

In addition to the locations indicated under ADDRESSES above, the
FEIS may be reviewed at:

(a) La Canada Flintridge Library, 4545 North Oakwood Avenue, La
Canada Flintridge, CA 91011;

(b) Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA

(c) Altadena Main Library, 600 East Mariposa St., Altadena, CA

(d) San Diego County Library–Vista Branch, 700 Eucalyptus Avenue,
Vista, CA 92084; and

(e) Escondido Public Library, 239 South Kalmia Street, Escondido,
CA 92025.

In addition, the FEIS may be examined at the following NASA
locations by contacting the pertinent Freedom of Information Act

(a) NASA, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 (650-604-

(b) NASA, Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA 93523 (661-

(c) NASA, Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland,
OH 44135 (216-433-2755);

(d) NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (301)

(e) NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058 (281-483-8612);

(f) NASA, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899 (321-867-9280);

(g) NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681 (757-864-

(h) NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812 (256-
544-1837); and

(i) NASA, John C. Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (228-688-2164).
Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement were solicited
from Federal, State and local agencies, organizations, and members of
the general public through: (a) notices published in the Federal
Register–NASA notice on July 29, 2004 (69 FR 45350) and EPA notice on
August 6, 2004 (69 FR 47926); and (b) notices published in general
circulation newspapers in Hawai’i and California. Comments received
have been addressed in the FEIS.

The ROD will be sent to each of the libraries, governmental
agencies, organizations, and persons who are being sent a copy of the
FEIS. In addition, when issued the ROD will be available in
Acrobat[reg] format at

Jeffrey E. Sutton,
Assistant Administrator for Infrastructure, Management, and
Headquarters Operations.

[FR Doc. 05-2624 Filed 2-8-05; 8:45 am]


SpaceRef staff editor.