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July 17, 2002

John Bluck                                                                                         

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone:  650/604-5026 or 604-9000



In just a few months, a group of U.S. high school students will be able to view the night sky from south of the equator as they ‘beta’ test a remote-control telescope in Chile via the Internet.


By mid 2003, students nationwide will be able to control the telescope and charge- coupled device (CCD) cameras in real time via the World Wide Web to observe celestial objects from Las Campanas, Chile. The CCD cameras are similar to consumer digital cameras but are more sensitive. In addition, NASA’s Telescopes in Education (TIE) program will provide access to the telescope by international scholars. TIE, Pasadena, Calif., deployed the 14-inch telescope, and NASA provided a CCD camera.

"This facility represents a fundamental breakthrough for high school students, enabling them to access a remotely controlled observatory located in the Southern Hemisphere," said Mark Leon, learning technologies project manager of the Southern Telescopes in Education Project at NASA Ames Research Center, in California's Silicon Valley.

The program enables students to increase their knowledge of astronomy, astrophysics and mathematics; improve their computer literacy; and strengthen their critical thinking skills, according to Leon. In addition to U.S. students, the program is collaborating with Chilean academia and high schools.

Hands-on training in Chile as well as on-line Internet interviews and presentations will be part of the program. Organizers hope to provide educators with this training so they can integrate hands-on astronomy into their science curricula.

The project in Chile was inspired by TIE, which in 1998 automated a telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in southern California to operate remotely via the Internet. Earlier, in 1993, the TIE facility began operating via direct modem dial-up connections. The system at Mount Wilson enables students to conduct research, make discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics and publish these discoveries in science journals and other media. Students remotely control the telescope in California using special software and can see and hear the telescope move via live audio and video Internet links.

In September 1999, an investigative team visited Chile to begin a formal collaboration to begin the process of setting up a telescope aimed at the southern skies. The observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and NASA Ames agreed to establish the Southern TIE effort. NASA signed a memorandum with the Carnegie Institution of Washington to formalize the project.

Miqueil Roth, director of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Observatory, Las Campanas, Chile, is managing the program in Chile. Leon is the NASA Ames manager for the Chilean project.

More information about the Southern Telescopes in Education Program – Chile can be found on the World Wide Web at this URL:

TIE is a program sponsored by NASA and developed through the efforts of numerous volunteers, businesses and supporting organizations including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. The Learning Technology Program, a part of NASA’s Education Technology Program, funds the TIE program.

High-resolution images related to this news release, and available for use in news publications are on the Internet at:


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