Ground-Based Observatories

The MIT Kavli Institute has played a major role in the development, construction and operation of the ground-based observatories listed below, and as a result of its contributions, MKI scientists have guaranteed access to data from these facilities.  In addition, MKI scientists carry out investigations with competitively-awarded access to user facilities around the world.


LIGO is a joint project operated by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded by the National Science Foundation. Its purpose is to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.  Read more...

The Magellan Telescopes Consortium, consisting of then Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW), University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), jointly run two 6.5 meter optical telescopes in the southern hemisphere. The telescopes, named after Walter Baade and Lucius Clay, are located on Cerro Las Campanas at an altitude of 8000 feet in the Chilean Andes.



The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an innovative widefield low-frequency radio telescope sited in radio-quiet Western Australia.  Operating in the frequency range from 80 MHz to 300 MHz, key projects are 21cm cosmology during the Epoch of Reionization, transient radio sources, and ionospheric and heliospheric studies.  The instrument is versatile, and many other studies in Galactic and extragalactic radio astronomy are anticipated.

Massive 3D mapping of our universe using radio waves from distant hydrogen gas has the potential to become our most sensitive cosmological probe, shedding new light on dark matter, dark energy, our cosmic origins and ultimate fate. To fulfill this potential, however, future radio telescopes require extreme precision, which corresponds to both huge collecting area and unprecedented control of systematic errors. Unfortunately, great sensitivity traditionally requires a great budget.