Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
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As a research institute of the Smithsonian Institution, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, where it is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). More than 300 scientists at the CfA are engaged in a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education.

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Here are the latest water vapor images of the Americas,

and of the eastern Pacific (including Hawaii).

Submillimeter Receiver Lab Site Testing

The receiver lab staff operates a site-testing Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) which gathers atmospheric opacity information from a high-altitude (>5000m) site in northern Chile. A description of the instrument and the initial results can be found in this publication. Here is a photo of the FTS container sitting open in the laboratory. Photo of the FTS in the laboratory
Scientists gathered near the FTS on Mauna Kea Initial field testing of the instrument took place during Fall 1997 at the SMA site on Mauna Kea. Pictured from left to right are C. Papa, R. Blundell, J. Barrett, S. Radford (NRAO) and S. Paine.
For a period of more than 2 years (October 1997 - December 1999), the FTS was deployed and obtained atmospheric opacity data at the international ALMA site at Chajnantor. Here is a photo of the working system at that time, adjacent to the NRAO site characterization instruments. The Chajnantor data are available at this link. FTS deployed at Chajnantor
FTS deployed on higher site

In late 2000, in collaboration with the Department of Astronomy of the Universidad de Chile, the system was relocated to a higher altitude site, shown in the photo with Marcos Diaz (U.Chile) and Angel Otarola (ESO). A striking overview of the region can be seen in this large panoramic photo.
Here is a portion of the road to the new site. A rough mountain road

Last modified: Fri Feb 16 13:42:37 2007