36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 14 Future Missions
Poster I, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 4:00-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

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[14.15] The Discovery Channel Telescope

R. L. Millis, E. W. Dunham, T. A. Sebring, B. W. Smith, M. de Kock, O. Wiecha (Lowell Observatory)

The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) is a 4.2-m telescope to be built at a new site near Happy Jack, Arizona. The DCT features a large prime focus mosaic CCD camera with a 2-degree-diameter field of view especially designed for surveys of KBOs, Centaurs, NEAs and other moving or time-variable targets. The telescope can be switched quickly to a Ritchey-Chretien configuration for optical/IR spectroscopy or near-IR imaging. This flexibility allows timely follow-up physical studies of high priority objects discovered in survey mode. The ULE (ultra-low-expansion) meniscus primary and secondary mirror blanks for the telescope are currently in fabrication by Corning Glass. Goodrich Aerospace, Vertex RSI, M3 Engineering and Technology Corp., and e2v Technologies have recently completed in-depth conceptual design studies of the optics, mount, enclosure, and mosaic focal plane, respectively. The results of these studies were subjected to a formal design review in July, 2004. Site testing at the 7760-ft altitude Happy Jack site began in 2001. Differential image motion observations from 117 nights since January 1, 2003 gave median seeing of 0.84 arcsec FWHM, and the average of the first quartile was 0.62 arcsec. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for securing long-term access to this site on the Coconino National Forest is nearing completion and ground breaking is expected in the spring of 2005. The Discovery Channel Telescope is a project of the Lowell Observatory with major financial support from Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI). DCI plans ongoing television programming featuring the construction of the telescope and the research ultimately undertaken with the DCT. An additional partner can be accommodated in the project. Interested parties should contact the lead author.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.