The MLSO Facility Gets a New Dome and Other Renovations

After 50 years of operation (1966–2016), the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory (MLSO), owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) at NCAR, received major building renovations. The most intriguing to witness renovation (see time-lapse movie), was the installation of a new dome. The old dome was removed on a Tuesday morning in January, and the new dome was installed before the end of the same day. This was no small feat since following its removal the main dome building had to be shortened by seven inches. Other important building renovations included new wiring, roof repair, and new exterior stairs.

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Time-lapse video of dome replacement

The solar facility also experienced significant equipment installations and upgrades. HAO observers assisted with the completion of the University of Illinois TIDDBIT radio receiver deployment. Its purpose is to study gravity waves in the ionsphere. The TIDDBIT computer installation and data transference was provided by HAO at no cost.

Also of note, HAO completed design and installation of the Coronal Multichannel Polarimeter (CoMP) motorized objective lens focusing system in anticipation of UCoMP deployment in late 2017. The UCoMP project will be carried out in collaboration between the University of Michigan and HAO in an effort to perform an upgrade that will increase both the field of view of the solar atmosphere that can be imaged and the range of the spectrum that it can observe.

A GPS receiver was installed at MLSO for monitoring ionosphere scintillations in the upper atmosphere to promote understanding through observations and high resolution modeling. Observational efforts will include deploying an all sky camera for imaging plasma and gravity waves, followed by Fabry Perot interferometer installation, which will observe neutral winds in the mesosphere and thermosphere.

Also see YouTube videos:
Dome removal West facing camera and
Dome removal East facing camera