mountain profile Institute for Astronomy University of Hawaii

Pan-STARRS

Maintained by LG

Pan-STARRS is the largest single research project at the Institute for Astronomy.

The first telescope, Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) is a 1.8-meter diameter telescope located near the summit of Haleakala on the Island of Maui. It is equipped with the world's largest digital camera, with almost 1.4 billion pixels.

A similar telescope, Pan-STARRS2 (PS2), has been constructed adjacent to PS1, and is expected to be operational in October 2017. It has a similar, but slightly larger digital camera, with almost 1.5 billion pixels.

The operation of the Pan-STARRS telescopes is mostly funded by the NASA Near Earth Observation Program. Each night, PS1 observes about 1,000 square degrees of the night sky, using a sequence of four exposures that span a period of about an hour. The images are compared to each other, and objects that move during the one hour period are identified. Objects that have unusual motions that make them likely to be Near Earth Objects are immediately reported to the Minor Planet Center, and a worldwide network of telescopes obtains additional observations of these Near Earth Object candidates to determine their orbits and sizes, and to determine whether any of them pose a threat to the Earth. The positions and brightnesses of all other moving objects are also reported to the Minor Planet Center, usually within 12 hours of observation.

Pan-STARRS1 is the world's leading Near Earth Object discovery telescope. It presently discovers over half of the larger Near Earth Objects (diameter > 140 meters). Pan-STARRS1 is also very efficient at discovering new comets, discovering more than half of all new comets discovered each year since 2014.

The telescope is operated from the IfA's Advanced Technology Research Center in Maui. Images from the telescope are transferred via a high-speed data connection to a powerful computer cluster for analysis.

Access to data from Pan-STARRS multicolor survey of the sky is available from the PS1 public data page.