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Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS)

The Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS), an asset of the US Air Force Materiel Command's Phillips Laboratory, is located at the summit of Haleakala, on the island of Maui, in the state of Hawaii. It is part of the Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS).

The mission of AMOS is to conduct research and development of new and evolving electro-optical sensors, as well as to provide support for operational missions defined by US and AF Space Command. In addition, AMOS provides experiment support to a wide variety of military and civilian organizations in diverse fields. This support has included the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and many universities. AMOS has hosted and supported a wide variety of visiting experiments.

Typical AMOS visiting experiments include:

  • support for tactical and strategic missile launches out of both Vandenberg and Kauai
  • detection and tracking of orbital debris
  • observations of shuttle and satellite special operations
  • laser illumination of satellites
  • atmospheric physics
  • space sciences and astronomy
  • the Short Wavelength Adaptive Technology (SWAT), a long term experiment funded by SDIO and requiring the construction of additional facilities at the observatory
  • the Relay Mirror Experiment (RME), funded by SDIO and managed by Phillips Laboratory, operated in Maui, utilized existing AMOS assets as well as requiring the construction of additional facilities at the observatory as well as a satellite control and laser propagation facility at sea level near the town of Kihei. Phillips Laboratory received the SPIE Technology Achievement Award for 1991 for the dramatic success of RME.

AMOS telescopes include a 1.6 meter telescope, an 80 centimeter Beam/Director Tracker, and a 60 centimeter Laser Beam Director. MOTIF includes twin 1.2 meter telescopes on a common mount. GEODSS includes two main 1 meter telescopes and an auxiliary 40 centimeter telescope. A major upgrade to AMOS will be the Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS), a 3.67 meter telescope scheduled for first light in 1997. AEOS will have seven coude' rooms for various experiments, as well as conventional Cassegrain positions located on the mount itself.

Sensors associated with these telescopes include a wide range of detectors and imaging arrays sensitive to the visible and infrared wavelengths. The 1.6 meter telescope has a Compensated Imaging System which has been operational since 1982. The new AEOS will also incorporate an adaptive optics system for atmospheric turbulence compensation. Under development is the AMOS Daytime Optical Near Infrared Imaging System (ADONIS), capable of extending the AMOS imaging capabilities to 24 hours per day. These adaptive optics systems allow AMOS to take photographs of orbiting satellites with outstanding clarity, in spite of the severe problems of dealing with atmospheric turbulence.

Lasers currently available at the site for external propagation include Argon ion lasers, a Neodymium YAG, and a ruby laser. External laser safety is accommodated with the use of plane watch personnel in conjunction with guidelines from the local FAA facility. Predictive avoidance is coordinated with the Laser Clearinghouse to preclude inadvertent illumination of satellites.

In addition to these facilities, the University of New Mexico manages the Phillips Laboratory's Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC). The MHPCC is a state-of-the-art computing center using massively parallel processing computers, based on the IBM SPx series. The MHPCC supports both Department of Defense and civilian users, operating in both classified and unclassified modes. AMOS utilizes the MHPCC for a significant amount of its image processing.

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