The list below shows current projects being
conducted at the Table Mountain Facility.

Click on a project link for more information, or to contact the project manager.

ACRIMSAT | Astronomy | AVM | FTUVS


Pomona College Observatory



The Atmospheric Visibility Monitor (AVM) is an autonomous robotic telescope whose mission is to learn about the transmission of light through the atmosphere, as part of the JPL Optical Communication Group's mission.

Day and night, it seeks out available stars and takes pictures of them at various wavelengths. It processes the images and sends the results, by network, back to the JPL main site for further analysis.

For more information,
please contact
Sabino Piazzolla



Atmospheric Spectroscopy at Table Mountain Facility

The depletion of stratospheric ozone and the changes in the global climate system are examples of environmental problems that have the potential to affect the Earth's habitability for generations. In order to understand how these changes will affect the coupled atmosphere-ocean-land systems, NASA has built a series of research and monitoring systems that use satellites, aircraft, balloons and ground-based instruments.

At Table Mountain Facility (TMF) our group has built two spectrometers for the remote measurement of atmospheric composition:

1. Fourier Transform Ultraviolet Spectrometer (FTUVS) is a high resolution interferometric spectrometer for the measurement of atmospheric molecules with resolved spectral features in the 290-800 nm spectral region. This instrument uses the Sun or Moon as a light source, and measures the absorption spectra of molecules such as OH (hydroxyl), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), NO3 (nitrate radical) and BrO (bromine monoxide) to obtain vertical column abundances.

2. Grating Spectrograph is a medium resolution grating spectrometer which employs a 1024 element diode array detector. This instrument can be used in the solar/lunar absorption modes, and also in a sky-viewing mode to detect light that has been scattered by high-altitude air molecules. This instrument is used for measurements of NO3 (nitrate radical), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), O3 (ozone) and other molecules.

These instruments provide data to the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC), an international program to measure long-term changes in the composition of the global atmosphere. In addition, support is provided for the validation of future satellite missions including SAGE III on the Meteosat platform to be launched in 2001, and the OMI instrument on the Earth Observing System Aura platform to be launched in 2003.

The scientists who use the atmospheric spectrometers at Table Mountain are members of the Chemical Kinetics and Photochemistry Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. The team members include Dr. Richard Cageao, Dr. Claudine Chen, Dr. Franklin Mills and Dr. Stan Sander (team leader). Collaborators include Prof. Yuk Yung and Dr. Mark Allen at the California Institute of Technology.

Click here to view PDF file with photos of the FTUVS project


LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging)

The TMF LIDAR laboratories host several instruments designed to measure atmospheric ozone, temperature, water vapor and aerosol profiles.

The systems are optimized to make high-precision, stable long-term measurements to aid in the detection of atmospheric changes through their contribution to the international Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC). The research is mainly funded by the NASA Upper Atmosphere Research Program.

A Nd:YAG laser-based system is used for ozone measurements from ground up to 15 to 20 km altitude, a combination Nd:YAG and excimer laser-based system is used for measurements from 15 km to 55 km for ozone and 15 km to 90 km for temperature. Another Nd:YAG laser-based system is used for water vapor measurements from ground up to 15-20 km altitude.

The lidar lab also includes a balloon launch facility for PTU radiosondes, ECC ozonesondes and Frost-Point Hygrometer sondes in support of the lidar measurements.


Please contact Dr. Thierry Leblanc for further information, or visit the TMF lidar website:


LIDAR team members are Dr. Thierry Leblanc (Principal Investigator), T. Daniel Walsh, Mark A. Brewer, and Robert T. Wyman.





The Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) is a state-of-the-art optical communications ground terminal currently being built by the JPL Telecommunications and Mission Operations Directorate Program office.

For additional information, please click to view the PDF document or visit the OCTL-Cam web site.





The NRL project has been monitoring the middle atmospheric water vapor profile, using the Naval Research Laboratory ground-based Water Vapor Millimeter-wave Spectrometer (WVMS) instruments. These 22 GHz spectrometers are making measurements as part of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC).

Instruments have been deployed at Table Mountain since 1992, and the Table Mountain site has been used to intercompare all new WVMS instruments which have been deployed since 1992. Other WVMS instruments currently operate at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and Lauder, New Zealand.

Measurements from the Table Mountain instrument have played an important role in several scientific studies, including the discovery of a large increase in middle atmospheric water vapor from 1991-1997 [Nedoluha et al., JGR 103, 3531-3543, 1998].




Pomona College Observatory

The Pomona College 40 inch telescope was designed by Dr. Robert Chambers who was actively involved in planning for a 1-meter class telescope since the early 1960's.

The telescope was built at Pomona College and installed on the mountain during the period from 1982-1985. Since then upgrades in the control electronics and motors have been made, and new software for controlling the telescope has been written by Gary Grasdalen.

The telescope was an ambitious project, and was made possible by the vision of Dr. Chambers, and the hard work of many physics department staff members and students.

A grant from the NSF ILI program was approved for the Claremont Colleges in 1994, and some additional funds for the optics upgrade were provided by JPL. The grant was authored by Dr. Shane Burns of Harvey Mudd College, Dr. Bryan Penprase, Dr. Alma Zook and Dr. Steve Naftilan.

The grant enabled the Claremont Colleges to upgrade the optics of the Pomona College 40 inch telescope by purchasing a new primary and secondary mirror. The optics were ordered by Dr. Bryan Penprase from Rayleigh Optical Company of Tucson, Arizona, headed by Dave Anderson.

The primary mirror was constructed from a 1-meter blank of Corning ULE (Ultralow Expansion) Glass, and the secondary was constructed from Schott Zerodur glass. The final installation of the new optics took place at Table Mountain during the summer of 1996.


Above: The Pomona College 40 inch telescope, viewed from the Table Mountain with some of the personell involved in the mirror installation visible.

Below: Another view of the telescope showing the mirrors and support structure

With the improved optics, the image quality of the 40 inch telescope was found to be superb, and this has made many new astronomical imaging research projects possible.

In the last few years (1998-2000) the telescope was used for precision monitoring of Jupiter's atmosphere, photometric observations of galactic star clusters and extinction from molecular clouds, as well as for research into the variability of quasars. In addition it is used by the Claremont College astronomy courses Physics 172 (senior lab), Astronomy 101, Astronomy 1 and Astronomy 3 classes for both advanced photometric observing and for viewing galaxies.

The telescope is outfitted with a Photometrics liquid N2 cooled CCD camera purchased jointly by Harvey Mudd College, JPL, and Pomona College. A polarimeter and filter wheel is nearing completion at Pomona College, funded by a grant from JPL. In addition a near-IR camera is being tested at Harvey Mudd Camera, acquired by an NSF grant to Dr. Alex Rudolph (HMC), Dr. Mary Barsony, Dr. Bryan Penprase, Dr. Steve Naftilan and Dr. Alma Zook.

We welcome collaborations with JPL astronomers as we expand the capabilities of this facility; interested parties can contact Dr. Bryan Penprase at Pomona College to schedule telescope time. He can be reached either by email or at the phone number (909) 621-8727.

Some of the resulting images taken with this telescope may be found at the Pomona College astronomy web site.