Status Report

NASA National Environmental Policy Act Outrigger Telescopes Project

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2004
Filed under , ,

[Federal Register: July 29, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 145)]
[Page 45350-45352]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []


[Notice 04-092]

National Environmental Policy Act; Outrigger Telescopes Project

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) 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 Draft EIS for the
proposed Outrigger Telescopes Project. NASA proposes 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 Draft EIS addresses alternative sites and the
environmental 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,

DATES: Written comments on the Draft EIS must be received by NASA no
later than September 30, 2004, or 45 days from the date of publication
in the Federal Register of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
notice of availability of the Draft EIS for the Outrigger Telescopes
Project, whichever is later.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be addressed to Dr. Carl B. Pilcher,
Office of Space Science, Code SZ, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20546-0001. Although hardcopy comments are preferred,
comments may be sent by electronic mail to Dr. Carl B. Pilcher at
or by facsimile at 202-358-3096.

1. NASA has sent a hard copy of the Draft EIS 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

2. Hard copies of the Draft EIS have been sent to selected
California State Public Libraries. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for
their addresses.

3. The Draft EIS also may be reviewed at NASA Headquarters, NASA
Centers, and the Hawai`i Legislative Reference Bureau. See
Limited hard copies of the Draft EIS are available by contacting
Dr. Carl B. Pilcher at the address or telephone number indicated below.
The Draft EIS is also available in Acrobat[reg] format at

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Carl B. Pilcher, Office of Space
Science, Code SZ, 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 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 Draft EIS. 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 Draft EIS
include the Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County, California
and the Mount Palomar Observatory in northern San Diego County,
California. The Draft EIS also addresses the No Action alternative.

The Draft EIS 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 at
the reasonable alternative 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 impacts.

Hard copies of the Draft EIS have been sent to the following
California State Public Libraries:

(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;

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

The Draft EIS 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;

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

In addition, the Draft EIS 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-

(i) NASA, John C. Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (228-688-2164).

NASA welcomes and requests public comments and concerns regarding
the Proposed Action, alternatives, and associated environmental issues.
NASA is holding public meetings to provide an opportunity for the
people of Hawai’i to comment in person on the Draft EIS. Public
meetings will be held at the following locations:

  • August 23, 2004, King Kamehameha Beach Hotel; 75-5660
    Palani Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (free parking);

  • August 25, 2004, Naniloa Hotel; 93 Banyan Drive, Hilo, HI
    96720 (free parking);

  • August 26, 2004, Waikoloa Beach Marriott; 69-275 Waikoloa
    Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96738-5711 (free parking);

  • August 30, 2004, Maui Arts & Cultural Center; One Cameron
    Way, Kahului, HI 96732 (free parking);

  • September 1, 2004, Wai’anae District Park; 85-601
    Farrington Highway, Wai’anae, HI 96792 (free parking);

  • September 2, 2004, Japanese Cultural Center; 2554 South
    Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96826 (free parking).

    All meetings will begin with an informal Open House from 5:45 to
    6:15 p.m. The formal meeting to receive public comments will begin at
    6:15 p.m. NASA plans to videotape and have a Hawaiian language
    translator at each meeting. To help ensure that oral comments are
    correctly captured, if possible, speakers should provide NASA with a
    written supporting statement. NASA will also consider conducting public
    meetings near alternative sites on the United States mainland,
    including the Mount Wilson and Palomar Mountain sites, if there is
    sufficient public environmental interest and concern.

    Persons, organizations, or other parties who wish to receive a
    written copy of NASA’s Record of Decision issued pursuant to this NEPA
    process should so indicate to Dr. Carl B. Pilcher at the addresses
    provided above.

    Written public input and comments on alternatives and environmental
    issues and concerns associated with the Outrigger Telescopes Project
    are hereby requested. Written comments will be reproduced to the extent
    practical and specifically responded to in the Final EIS. Oral
    presentations at the public comment meetings that are unsupported by
    written statements will be summarized by NASA and addressed in the Final EIS.

    Olga M. Dominguez,
    Deputy Assistant Administrator for Institutional and Corporate
    [FR Doc. 04-17264 Filed 7-28-04; 8:45 am]

    BILLING CODE 7510-01-P

  • SpaceRef staff editor.