Headquarters Building of the Table Mountain Facility as seen in
May 1987. This building houses the resident staff member offices, kitchen
and dormitory accomodations for all visiting science users and a library/conference
room. Staff members include the facility operations manager, the resident
astronomers and Lidar manager. Some
dormitory accommodations include office space for extended users.
remote location with excellent viewing conditions and fine transparent
skies, the Table Mountain Facility is increasingly sought after as a
site for scientific investigation of the earth's atmosphere, solar radiation,
and solar system astronomy. Formally known as the Table Mountain Observatory,
the name reflects a greater diversity of current operations and programs.
Mountain is located in the San Gabriel Mountains at an elevation
of 7500 feet. Although remote, the facility is only an 80-mile drive
from Los Angeles. The Smithsonian Institution established the 'observatory'
in 1926, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory acquired the USFS lease permit
for the site in 1962. The following pictures show the progression of
the site's development from 1961.
above photograph, dated in the fall of 1961, shows one of the
original residence buildings used when Smithsonian occupied the mountain.
and the following picture were taken late in 1961 during a site
survey JPL conducted to determine the feasibility of using Table Mountain
for an astronomical observatory. The picture above shows the main
residence that was used by the Smithsonian site resident observer.
The picture below shows the 'bunker' used by the solar irradiance
equipment for the Smithsonian measurements during the 1920-50 time
above photograph, looking ESE, shows the solar panel testing operation
by JPL in May, 1962. JPL had been using the site on a limited basis
to test spacecraft solar panels in the late 50's and early 60's. JPL
acquired the lease permit from the United States Forestry (USF) in
the spring of 1962, and purchased the facility buildings left by Smithsonian
which were in remarkably good repair.
16-inch optical telescope had already been purchased, so plans were
drawn up for the first new building JPL would add to the site. Known
as 'TM-1', the observatory building to house the telescope was completed
in July, the telescope was placed into operation, and initial tests
(first light) were conducted on August 1.
following pictures show the building under construction (1), and
Charles F. Capen, Jr., testing the drive mechanism for the telescope
(2) just before the initial tests were conducted.
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