Picture Id: 291317
In the moonscape of lava cones atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, and France have raised a cluster of observatories. Nearly three miles in altitude, they stand above almost half the earth's atmosphere and 90 percent of its water vapor, excellent for ground-based infrared telescopes. The island location is free from atmospheric turbulence induced by landmasses, as well as light pollution from cities. Logistic support can be shared. A real problem for astronomers, however, is that too few such telescopes are available for the research that needs to be done.
MAUNA KEA OBSERVATORY, HAWAII ISLAND, HAWAII.
JAMES A. SUGAR/National Geographic Creative