NASA Infrared Telescope Facility Repair

Mechanical Engineers of Hawaii (MEH) was the Prime Consultant responsible for the design services to replace and supplement the existing A/C system that serves NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The 3 meter (9.8 foot) telescope is situated at 4,205 meters or 14,000 feet above sea level.

The goal of the project was to minimize the telescope’s image distortion due to thermal stratification.  The $810,000 project included an A/C system designed to maintain room temperature to closely match the projected night time temperature at the time of viewing using a glycol chiller.  Largely varying ambient temperatures occurring on-site as well as the reduced air pressure at high altitude, presented a unique challenge of appropriately designing a chiller to operate in 30 to 50 degree Fahrenheit weather.  An energy saving system that captures the waste heat from the chiller supplements the existing electric room heating system. MEH provided mechanical and fire alarm engineering services.