Research Facilities

Research Facilities

Astronomical Facilities
Cosmochemistry Laboratories
AstroChemistry Laboratories
Data Visualization
HI-SEAS Habitat
Oceanographic & Microbiology

Astronomical Facilities

Maunakea Observatories [A] — The 4,200 m high summit of Maunakea houses the world’s largest observatory for optical, infrared, and sub-mm astronomy. University of Hawai`i (UH) researchers get nearly all of the time on the UH2.2m telescope and for all but the IRTF, 10-15% of the time. The Submillimeter Array is optimized for high angular resolution observations at a wavelength of 1.3-0.3mm, ideal for looking at thermal continuum emission, rotational lines of light molecules, and atomic fine structure lines near young stars, in protoplanetary disks and solar system bodies. Several of our team members also have privileged access to the Automated Planet Finder Telescope, Kepler, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) [D].

Maui Haleakala Telescopes: AEOS, Faulkes and Pan STARRS 1 — The 3.67-meter AEOS telescope is the Air Force’s largest most advanced telescope. UH operates a high-resolution visible-IR spectrograph and spectropolarimeter instrument here. A new imaging polarimeter, InnoPol, will provide Ha and broad-band polarized images of the brightest disk systems with 30 milli arcsec spatial resolution. The Pan-STARRS project began in 2002 with the prototype telescope Pan STARRS1 (PS1) [B]. This 1.8m telescope has a 7 deg2 FOV and allows the entire visible sky from Hawai`i to be imaged within ~10 nights. PS1 began operations in 2010 and discovered 3 novel active objects including two MBCs in 2013 alone, when just 48% of its time was dedicated to the ecliptic. From 2014, PS1 is NASA-funded, and ~100% of the observations will be near the ecliptic. In late 2014, a second telescope, PS2, goes online. UHNAI team members will have unique rapid access to the survey data and the ability for quick follow up on Maunakea. Faulkes is a 2-m telescope operated by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network and is the largest telescope in the world dedicated to education. UH students and researchers can also access Faulkes [C].

VYSOS Telescopes–Mauna Loa [E] — The VYSOS survey telescopes provide continuous monitoring of all the major star-forming regions visible from Hawai`i. VYSOS-5 is a 135mm f/5.44 refractor with a 2.9×2.9 degree field of view. The VYSOS-20 is a 20-inch f/8.2 reflector with a field of view of 30×30 arcmin and can reach magnitude in short exposures. A new 12.5 inch astrograph, VYSOS-12, is being added for immediate follow-up.

Cosmochemistry Laboratories

The W. M. Keck Cosmochemistry Laboratory [G] — Established in 2006, the lab is a catalyst for interdisciplinary research into the origin of the solar system. Its centerpiece is a state-of-the-art Cameca ims 1280 ion microprobe secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). This instrument is capable of in situ measurements of chemical and isotopic compositions of natural samples at spatial resolutions <1 to tens of um. The ims 1280 is equipped with a solid state imaging detector (SCAPS) that is capable of quantitative direct ion imaging of fine-grained samples, permitting acquisition of isotope ratio maps with a spatial resolution of ~0.5um. The ion probe is supported by a JEOL 5900 LV scanning electron microscope.

The Advanced Analytical Electron Microscopy Center brings together a new NASA-funded FEI Titan3 G2 60-300 aberration-corrected (scanning) transmission electron microscope ((S)TEM) and a state-of-the-art FEI Helios NanoLab 660 DualBeam focused ion beam instrument (FIB). Together these instruments allow sub-micron, site-specific analysis and sample preparation for TEM analysis of chemistry, crystal structures, mineralogy, and petrography. Detectors include a high angle annular dark field detector, EDAX energy dispersive S-ray spectrometer and Tridiem Gatan imaging filter (GIF) for imaging and electron energy loss spectroscopy. The Helios FIB consists of a field-emission SEM equipped with a Ga-ion column allowing electron and ion imaging, ion milling and localized electron- and ion-beam mediated chemical vapor deposition. The system is equipped with carbon, tungsten and platinum deposition, retractable backscatter detector, retractable STEM detector and in situ micromanipulator.

AstroChemistry Laboratories

The W.M. Keck Laboratory in Astrochemistry [H] — (established in 2010) consists of a novel ultra high vacuum (UHV, 10-11 torr) surface scattering machine in which (-mineral doped-) astrophysically relevant ice samples are irradiated at temperatures as low as 4K with charged particles (electrons, protons, helium nuclei) and monochromatic UV photons (5-15 eV). By analyzing intermediates and products via infrared, Raman, UV/VIS spectroscopy and time-of-flight/mass spectrometry utilizing soft ionization (low energy electrons, tunable photoionization), the formation routes of new molecules can be extracted quantitatively. Analyses are carried out on-line and in-situ via Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) in absorption-reflection-absorption (solid state) and Raman and using a calibrated quadrupole mass spectrometer (gas phase) to determine temperature dependent production rates of relevant molecules. Molecules remaining in the refractory residue formed upon warming the irradiated target to 300K can be derivatized and analyzed via a calibrated gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GCMS). This setup is the only machine capable of reaching extreme ultra-high vacua and low temperatures while monitoring both solid and gas phases.

In addition, the AstroChemistry lab has the following:

(i)     Simulation Chamber: This novel stainless steel chamber of ~100 liters is evacuated to ultimate pressures of a few 10-11 torr. Ices of a few 100 nm thickness are prepared in situ by condensing a gas mixture via a gas capillary array onto a cryogenic finger.

(ii)   Proton Source: A mono-energetic charged particle source is employed in a separate side chamber to simulate the effect of the dominant 1 keV proton (H+) component of the solar wind.

(iii)  Photon Source: The continuous vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light source consists of a deuterium lamp with a spectral output of 165-112 nm coupled to a monochromator and optics housed in a UHV chamber. The photolysis module is operated with monochromatic Lyman-a photons to simulate the interaction of solar high energy photons.

(iv)  Electron Source: Energetic electrons from 1 to 5 keV are used to simulate energetic processing of interstellar ices by galactic cosmic rays. This machine has the unique advantage of monitoring energy deposition and resulting chemical modifications spectroscopically in situ.

(v)   IR Spectroscopy: Utilizing a Nicolet FTIR 6700 spectrometer with a LN2 cooled MCTB-type detector, we probe ices in the 10,000-500 cm-1 region. This includes the astronomically relevant range from 1.0-2.5 um.

(vi)  Residual Gas Analyzer: A quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) with electron impact ionization is interfaced to the machine.

Data Visualization & Computing

LAVA — Through its Innovation Initiative, HI2, UH will develop sophisticated data visualization facilities in the new Information Technology Center. The Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA), now under construction, will research, develop, and commercialize visual analysis technologies, and train current and future generations of students, faculty, and companies in the crucial skill of big data visualization. LAVA occupies 1200 sq. ft. equipped to host computer clusters and cooling, as well as a CANOE (Collaborative Analysis, Navigation and Observation Environment) comprising a 24 Megapixel stereoscopic 3D, touch and gesture interaction capable display system.

UHNAI 3D Stereoscopic Visualization Environment — The “mini-CAVE” is undergoing an expansion to four 73-inch Mitsubishi 1920x1080p120 3D displays synchronously driven by a PNY nVidia Quadro K5000 graphics display system with 1536 CUDA cores (1.5 Tflops graphical display throughput), providing a 240º 3D surround experience, interactively controlled by the user, whose interactions are mediated by a 6-camera OptiTrack system that provides 6D-tracking (3 spatial axes and 3 rotations) of the user’s head and a control wand.

Specialized Computers — We have an 8-node, 40 CPU computer cluster, used for N-body integrations and simulations of planet formation and water delivery. The microbiology group maintains a server with 40 GB of RAM and 2 TB of high speed disk space for bioinformatics applications, while SOEST has a fully staffed computer network support facility. We also have access to the UH College of Information and Computer Sciences 64-Node Dell cluster, which is optimized to run parallel jobs such as FastQC, Blast, and HMMer.

The HI-SEAS Habitat

The Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation facility [F] was constructed to simulate long duration Mars missions on Earth. It is located at ~8,000 ft elevation in an abandoned quarry on the northern slope of Maunaloa. The habitat is a 36-ft diameter, 13,570 cu. ft. geodesic dome. The ground floor has a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, lab and exercise space. The second floor houses sleeping quarters for 6 and a second bathroom. HI-SEAS is used for long duration (4-12 month) simulations of the surface stage of human space missions and is funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

Oceanographic/Microbiology Facilities

UH is well-equipped for undersea research. The Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) includes two deep-diving (2000 m) Pisces submersibles, two remotely operated vehicles (to 6000m), and the support ship R/V Kaimikai-o-Kanaloa. Its mission is to study deep water marine processes in the Pacific Ocean. The twin hulled R/V Kilo Moana is owned by the Office of Naval Research and operated by SOEST. The ship hosts 8 labs with 2500 sq.ft. of lab space, and carries extensive equipment including echosounders, subbottom profiler, gravimeter and magnetometer, Doppler current profilers, CTDs, PCO2 and a full complement of winches, cranes and handling gear. The ship has a range of 10,000 miles and can remain at sea for 50 days, with 31 scientists and 17 crew.

CORK Observatories — Circulation Obviation Retrofit Kit (CORK) observatories provide direct access to circulating fluids within the deeply sediment-buried basement formations of oceanic crust. CORKs were developed during the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) to study the hydrogeology of the basement environment, but now host a variety of interdisciplinary studies. New advanced CORKs are equipped with improved fluid delivery systems that consist of 0.5 inch interior diameter, inert PVDF tubing extending from the fluid intake near the bottom of the borehole (in basement) up to the sampling spigot at the CORK’s seafloor platform. The advanced CORKs provide consistent access to large volume samples of pristine deep subseafloor basement fluids for microbial and geochemical studies. We use the CORKs to study the basement microbial community structure in the context of its geochemical and physical conditions.

GeoMICROBE Instrumentation Sled — The GeoMICROBE (GeoMicrobiology In Situ Cork Research Observatory for Biosphere Experiments) is a standalone instrument sled for deployment to CORK observatories for in situ analyses and sampling of deep subseafloor basement fluids.

Evolutionary Genetics Core Functional Genomics Facility — located on Coconut Island, houses Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx and MiSeq next generation sequencers, ABI 3100 (16 capillary) genetic fragment analyzer, Agilent Bioanalyzer, Bio-Rad VersArray ChipWriter, Axon Instruments GenePix 4000B Chipreader, Bio-Rad VersArray Chipreader, Bio-Rad ColonyPicker/Arrayer System, and a variety of other core instrumentation.