History

 

1980 – Congress designates the Langmuir Research Site, 31,000 acres in the Magdalena Mountains of the Cibola National Forest.

1982 – Concept for the millimeter array first developed by NRAO.

1988 – Site study to fill requirements for the millimeter array; Magdalena Ridge the favored site.

1989, August – Fred Kuellmer, former NMT Vice President of Research and Economic Development, requests a telescope.

1992-1993 – Biological and archaeological  survey prepared for the Millimeter Array.

1995, October 4 – Initial telephone discussions between Dick Newton (WMSR) and Dave Westpfahl (NMT ) to discuss building a telescope.

1995, October 5 – First group trip to Magdalena Ridge: Dave Westpfahl, Dick Newton, Tom Hamilton. Initial relationship established with U.S. Army – Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) in Huntsville, AL.

1996 – Millimeter array site moved to Chile.

1996, January 5 – MRO group expanded to include U.S. Air Force (AFRL/DE).

1996, July 1 – Lodestar Site Survey Report prepared for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

1997, February 13 – MRO group further expanded to include New Mexico State University (NMSU) and University of Puerto Rico (UPR). First concept for the interferometer developed.

1997, July 11 – Start of environmental site testing on the ridge, turbulence monitors and meteorological testing.

1997, July 18 – NMT, NMSU, UPR execute a Memorandum of Understanding to form a University Research Consortium (MROC).

1997, September, FY 1998 – First attempt at congressional funding (led by NMSU) not successful.

1998, February – Declassification of 2.4-meter mirror. Transfer of mirror to NMT through EPA with AFRL/DEBS. Transport of mirror to Socorro. Proposed design is 3-element interferometer using  2.4-meter telescopes.

1998, March 19 – Name formally becomes Magdalena Ridge Observatory. First formal briefing to US Forest Service (USFS).

1998, March 20-24 – SPIE conference in Kona, HI; Jeff Baker gives first paper mentioning MRO.

1998, April 8 – Briefing to Congressman  Joe Skeen, who inspects the mirror.

1998, April 14 – First working draft of the MROC Agreement.

1998, April 17 – Dave Westpfahl and Dale Truesdell meet with USFS to discuss required environmental documentation.

1998, May 28-31 – First (in)formal/introductory consortium (NMTNMSUUPR) meeting at Rio Piedras (San Juan) campus of UPR by UPR president.

1998, August – IPA with USAF/DEBS starts

1998, September, FY 1999 – second effort at funding (led by NMT) not successful.

1998, October 4-9 – Interferometry workshop at Lowell Observatory. Letter of intent from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

1998, November 5 – Letter of intent from NMHU; joined the project.

1998, December 1 – First smoke tests on ridge.

1999, January 13 – Briefing of Congresswoman Heather Wilson.

1999, February 18 – Senator Pete Domenici expresses support of project.

1999, March 16 – Briefing to USNO Director Ken Johnston and his staff in Washington D.C.

1999, April 6 – Night Sky Protection Act signed by Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico.

1999, April 9 – Consortium meeting at NMHU.

1999, May 24-28 – Dana Point Conference, first contact with Sea West Inc., who will develop initial design and engineering.

1999, September, FY 2000 – First installment of funding ($2M) expected. Bill was late so it was not received.

1999, October 7 – Announcement of funding (President’s signature on Defense Appropriations Bill).

1999, October 29 – First consortium meeting after funding announcement.

2000, March – MRO Consortium Agreement final draft completed.

2000, March 27-30 – SPIE meeting in Munich. Gary Loos and Dave Westpfahl give first paper exclusively on MRO.

2000, April 18 – MROC Agreement signed by NMTNMSUUPRNMHU. Ceremony formally convening the MROC board of governors/directors in the presence of Congressman Joe Skeen. MROC incorporated as a not-for-profit company in New Mexico and designates a Board of Directors.

2000, April 19 – By-laws adopted at the first MROC board of directors meeting.

2000,  August 3 – LANL submits proposal to become full member of the MROC.

2000, August 17 – MROC submitted a statement (scope) of work to the SMDC in response to a request by the Department of Defense (DoD) for missile data testbed.

2000,  August 28 – MROC adopts resolution to appoint NMT as its fiscal agent.

2000, September, FY 2001 – $7.4 million set aside for MRO.

2000, October 19 – Letter Contract signing with the U.S. Army giving MRO authorization to begin work.

2000, December 18-19 – Re-negotiations of the contract with SMDC.

2001, March 29 – LANL signs on as full member of the Consortium.

2001, April 26 – Consortium receives $3 million from a DoD funding bill to begin planning and designing.

2001,  June – Transfer of sponsorship to U.S. Navy (NRL) (completed in September).

2001, September – Expression of interest from University of Cambridge. (Cooperative agreement with NRL signed, NRL designated as government lead for project, Charmine Gilbreath assigned as Contracting Officer Tech Rep).

FY 2002 – $8.4 million set aside for MRO.

2002, January 8 – Consortium meets in Washington D.C.

2002, February 5 – MRO management meeting in Santa Fe.

2002, April 5 – Update briefing for Senator Jeff Bingaman.

2002, June 21 – Cambridge signs a letter of intent in ceremony at the Rayburn Building in Washington D.C. Including: Senator Domenici, Rep. Joe Skeen, Rep. Heather Wilson, Dr. Chris Haniff, Dr. Van Romero, and Dr. David Westpfahl.

2002, July 19 – Initial layout of interferometer on the ridge.

2002, July – NMSU electrical engineers replace NMSU astronomers.

2002, August 20 – MRO Unveiling, Magdalena Mountains with Senator Pete Domenici and other dignitaries.

2002, August 22-29 – SPIE meeting at Waikoloa, HI; several papers on MRO presented.

2002, September, FY 2003 – $21 million set aside for MRO.

2002, September 1 – Mike Cobb joins MRO as Project Manager.

2002, October 3 – NSFS intent to prepare Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

2002, October 10 – NM Legislature pass DoD bill giving MRO $21 million for development.

2002, October 21 – Interferometer Initial Design Review. Including: Dr. David Westpfahl – science, Mr. Dick Horton – optics, Mr. Gary Loos – adaptive optics, Dr. Christ Haniff – interferometry, Dr. Len Truesdell – environmental and facility design, Dr. Scott Teare, control systems.

2002, November 13 – Public Open-House Meeting in Albuquerque. 2.4-meter telescope Initial Design Review. Including: Dr. Eileen Ryan – 2.4-meter Telescope design, Dr. john Juarez – Education & Outreach, Dr. Cecilia Navarette – Education & Outreach. Mr. Dick Horton – optical design, Dr. Len Truesdell – NEPA process and infrastructure design, Dr. Dan Klinglesmith – site monitoring, Mr. Gary Loos – adaptive optics.

2002, November 21 – Public Open-House meeting in Socorro, NM.

2002, December – Management reorganization for the project.

2002, December 9 – Independent Review Team critique of the 2.4-meter telescope IDR presented to MRO personnel.

2003, January -Dr.  Sergio Restaino is assigned COTR position in place of Dr. Charmaine Gilbreath.

2003, January 13 – Pierce Howell, David Buscher, Dan Klinglesmith, Gary Loos, and Dave Westpfahl first on-site information gathering in support of the EIS.

2003, February 19 – Review of the SAIC work plan by the USFS. Submission of the MRO Management Plan in response to concerns identified by the IDR team in October 2002.

2003, February 21 – Response to Design Review in Washington D.C.

2003, March 18 – Initial communication with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on work schedule that accommodates breeding and nesting of the Mexican Spotted Owl.

2003, August – Dr. Michelle Creech-Eakman joins MROI as the Project Scientist.

2003, July 11 – Mark Sirota joins MROI as Project Manager.

2003, October – Attempted target date for completion of EIS (instead of February 2004).

2004, June – Pierce Howell becomes Site Project Manager.

2004, July – 2.4-meter telescope team signs contract with building architectural and engineering firm Dekker, Perrich, Sabatini (Albuquerque, NM).

2004, September – 2.4-meter telescope team signs contract with EOS Technologies (Tuscon, AZ)  for the design and build of the telescope.

2004, November – 2.4-meter telescope team signs contract with AUI, Inc. for excavation and foundation. Contract executed the same month.

2005, January – AUI, Inc. completes excavation and foundation construction for 2.4-meter telescope.

2005, March – 2.4-meter telescope team signs contract with Rio Conchos Corp. (Albuquerque, NM) for construction of the telescope building. Dr. M. Creech-Eakman named Interim Project Manager for MROI.

2005, May – Rio Conchos commences 2.4-meter telescope building construction.

2005, August – 2.4-meter telescope team signs contract with ObservaDome (Jackson, MS)  for dome design and build.

2005, October – MROI signs contract with M3 Engineering (Tuscon, AZ) for architectural design of the Beam Combining Facility (BCF).

2006, February 20 – Dr. Eric Bakker joins MROI as the Project Manager.

2006, March 16 – Charles Cormier joins MRO as the Program Director.

2006, July –  2.4-meter telescope dome delivered and installed.

2006, August – MROI signs contract with K.L. House (Albuquerque, NM) to construct the BCF. Construction commences.

2006, September –  2.4-meter telescope installed at the site by EOS Technologies.

2006, October 26 –  2.4-meter telescope dedication ceremony.

2006, October 31 –  2.4-meter telescope achieves first light.

2006, December - MROI signs contract with OST (Albuquerque, NM) for 6 sets of mirrors.

2007, March –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers, Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan participate in the first science project using the telescope through a collaboration with MIT/Williams College to observe Pluto’s atmosphere during an occultation. The first science paper from the use of the facility for this research is published in the Astronomical Journal in 2008.

2007, September –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan acquire the first costumer contract from the U.S. Air Force (USAF); Hanscom AFB entitled: A New Sensor for the Development of Space Object Surveillance Technologies.

2008, January – Construction of the MRO Interferomter BCF is completed.

2008, May 7 –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan are awarded a grant from NASA; NEO Program entitled: Physical Characterization and Follow-up Studies of NEOs using the MRO 2.4-meter telescope.

2008, September –  2.4-meter telescope project beings full operations. 2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan are awarded a grant from the USAF to continue work in the area of Space Situational Awareness.

2008, October – Mark Swain (JPL), Michelle Creech-Eakman and Penny Boston work on the idea of a spectrometer for exoplanet atmospheric studies at the MRO 2.4-meter telescope.

2008, November – MROI signs contract with AMOS (Liege, Belgium) for the research and development, and construction of the first Unit Telescope (UT).

2008, December - MROI signs contract with EIE Srl (Venice, Italy) for UT dome design.

2009, January – Michelle Creech-Eakman’s team at NMT and Mark Swain’s team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)  submit an EPSCOR preproposal to NM NASA EPSCoR to fund such a project.  A conceptual design (by Colby Jurgenson and G. Vasisht (JPL)) in included and the project is ultimately selected as one of two from NM to be submitted to NASA.

2009, July - NASA awards project via NMSU NASA EPSCoR office to NMT to build New Mexico Tech Extrasolar Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI).

2009, October –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan are awarded a grant from the  Planetary Astronomy of the National Science Foundation (NSF) entitled: Observational Study of the Rotation Rates of Very Small Near-Earth Objects.

2010, March – Dr. Ifan Payne becomes the MRO Interim Program Director. NESSI team presents NESSI design at Preliminary Design Review at JPL.  Reviewers include:  Dr. Mark Colavita, Dr. Nick Konidaris, Dr. Gautam Vasisht and Dr. Mark Swain.

2010, March 2 –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan are awarded additional funding from USAF (Hanscom AFB) to continue the project entitled: A New Sensor for the Development of Space Object Surveillance Technologies.

2010, April 2 –  2.4-meter telescope astronomers Dr. Eileen Ryan and Dr. Bill Ryan are awarded a grant from AFRL (Edwards AFB) entitled: Proof of Capability Demonstration for the Observation of Satellites in Low Earth Orbit.

2010, May – Construction of the MROI 100-meter Delay Line (for UT West 2 station) commences.

2010, June 10 -MROI achieves first laboratory fringes with the Fringe Tracker beam combiner, Infrared Coherencing Nearest Neighbor tracker (ICoNN).

2010, July – MROI extends contract with AMOS (Liege, Belgium) for the build of UT2 and UT3.

2010, August – Rob Selina becomes the MROI Project Manager.

2010, September - MROI signs a contract with L.C. Structural (Las Cruces, NM) for the construction of the first array infrastructure foundations.

2010, November – Construction of the MROI 100-meter Delay Line (for UT West 2 station) is completed.

2010, December – MROI array infrastructure construction commences.

2011 – FHWA awards MRO a $960K grant for a Visitor Center.

2011, March – MRO hosts the Resolving the Future of Astronomy with Long-Baseline Interferometry workshop.

2011, April - Successful Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) of the first MROI Delay Line Trolley at Cambridge, UK.

2011, July - NESSI team present NESSI Final Design Review at MRO.  Reviewers include:  Dr. Pieter Deroo, Dr. Gautam Vasisht, Dr. Mark Swain with Dr. David Buscher in attendance.

2011, September – Dr. Ifan Payne becomes the MRO Program Director.

2011, October – MROI first array infrastructure foundations completed by L.C. Structural.

2012, February – Successful FAT of MROI UT1 in Liege, Belgium.

2012, May – NESSI Exoplanet Workshop