Pan-STARRS 1 Telescope on Haleakalā. (Photo by Rob Ratkowski)

Pan-STARRS 1 Telescope on Haleakalā. (Photo by Rob Ratkowski ©PS1 Science Consortium)

The top scientific conference in the fields of space optics, imaging and surveillance is being held on Maui with the participation and support of the University of Hawaiʻi. The 14th Annual Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference or AMOS opened September 10 and runs through September 13, 2013.

AMOS is one of the many events, assets and companies that contribute to a burgeoning aerospace sector in Hawaiʻi.

A 2011 UH study (using 2007 data) estimates that the state’s aerospace sector was at $1.7 billion in 2012, with 30,000 employees. The study defines the aerospace sector as encompassing aviation, astronomy, robotics, certain national security activities, space related technologies and projects, higher education and multiple other service industries.

According to the Institute for Astronomy, the university’s Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site is among the best astronomical sites in the world as far as the quality of seeing, infrastructure and accessibility. UH currently operates the Mees Solar Observatory, the Pan-STARRS PS1 Survey Telescope and the TLRS4 Satellite Laser Ranging System there. UH also leases observatory sites to several other entities, including the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate (AFRL). AFRL is the host of the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, where scientists utilize visible and infrared sensors, and adaptive optics to collect image and signature data on man-made, near-earth and deep-space objects.

The observatories at the Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site employ 244 people and contribute approximately $55 million a year to the economy of Maui County. The capital cost of construction at the Haleakalā observatory site already totals $304.7 million.

In addition, the $300-million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope is scheduled to begin operations in 2019, with an $18 million annual operating cost and 35 employees.

Mauna Kea also hosts important UH scientific assets. There are currently twelve telescope facilities in full operation on Mauna Kea. UH scientists have access to a guaranteed fraction of the observing time on all of these telescopes. This unique telescope access has allowed the University of Hawaiʻi to build up its astronomy program into one that is internationally recognized.

The University of Hawaiʻi also has vital responsibilities for the first space launch from the State of Hawaiʻi, which is scheduled for 2014. When the Super Strypi missile takes flight from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauaʻi, it will be carrying a satellite designed by University of Hawaiʻi faculty and students. The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Operationally Responsive Space Office has overarching responsibility for the mission and launch, of which UH is playing a significant role. UH is the contractor for the launch facility and three rocket motor stages (being designed and built by Aerojet).

A UH System news release

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