NASA Orbital Debris Observatory

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Update: The NASA Orbital Debris Observatory is closing normal operations in September 2002. This is due to new funding constraints within the NASA Orbital Debris Program. The good news is that the facility will be acquired by the Large Astronomical Mirror Array (LAMA) Consortium - a group which is planning to build an array of 10 m class LMTs.

The 3m NASA-LMT, currently housed in the main dome, will be dismantled. Many of its components however will be incorporated into the 6m Large Zenith Staring Telescope (LZT) - a prototype for LAMA devlopment. There also remains the possibilty that the NASA-LMT will be re-erected at another site within the next two years.

The 32 cm Schmidt CDT, in the south auxilary dome, will be relocated next FY to another, lower latitude, site.

We are naturally saddened at the loss of NASA-LMT. During its 8 years of continual operation, it has served a pioneering role in demonstrating the viability of the Liquid Mirror Telescope as an astronomical tool.

Please check the Images and Movies section for future updates as we continue to process the collected data. 


Latest Additions: (5/2002):  Comet WM1 Linear Image  and a Movie of a Satellite Transit Past M57


The NASA Orbital Debris Observatory (NODO) is located in New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest ~3 km north of the village of Cloudcroft.

GPS Coordinates are : 105.733371 W Longitude;  32.979408 N Latitude;  2772 m AMSL

The main dome houses the world's 17th largest astronomical telescope: a 3.0 meter diamter Liquid Mirror Telescope (LMT).

This instrument is innovative in its design and produces images comparable to conventional glass mirrored telescopes.

The instrument's primary purpose is to provide quantitative information on the population distribution of orbiting space objects.

The subsidiary purpose is to perform astronomical survey work: including Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection and a comprehensive survey of galaxies and QSOs with redshifts obtained photometrically to a limiting  z~.5+-.01

The observatory site is seismically stable, far from city lights, above 1/4 of the Earth's atmosphere and boasts ~200 clear nights per year.

Sadly, it is one of only a few dark sky sites remaining in the continental U.S.

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Site Information

Views of the LMT!
Images and Movies
Description of the Observatory's Purpose
Observatory Telescopes and Techincal Information
Staff Directory
Links - Learning More
Ph.D. Thesis (26 MB zipped PDF)

Other nearby observatories:

National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak
Apache Point Observatory

For more information, please contact us.

NASA Orbital Debris Observatory  (NODO)

Background image of M57 acquired with the NASA-LMT  (w/ 1K CCD)