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PARI helps map earth deformations

The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute near Brevard has joined a national effort to map deformations of the earth’s crust.

The research lab, which houses radio and optical telescopes and is better known for its celestial exploration, has installed a GPS station that will send live data to Boulder, Colo.

There, researchers will determine where the Earth’s crust changes shape, how magma moves under the surface, and how to mitigate damage from earthquakes and volcanoes.

The GPS station is called an Earthscope Plat Boundary Observatory instrument, and it was built and will be maintained by a consortium of research groups funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

The observatory instrument at PARI is one of more than 1,100 continuously operating GPS receivers that are linked to more than 100 meters throughout the United States that measure deformations. Most are concentrated on the West Coast, but the PARI instrument is one of six on the East Coast.

“People tend to think of PARI only in terms of astronomy, perhaps without realizing that modern astronomy places us on the leading edge of physics, computer science, engineering and Earth science,” PARI Science Director Dr. Michael Castelaz said in a prepared statement. “In addition to the Plate Boundary Observatory we are heavily involved with solar power and alternative energy sources, and are currently in discussions with several universities about ways to use the PARI campus for various environmental and Earth science initiatives. Our association with globally-respected organizations like UNAVCO and state-of-the-art projects like the PBO help underscore our commitment to all forms of science and technology.”

For more information about UNAVCO, visit To learn more about the Earthscope PBO, visit To see data from the PBO installation at PARI, visit

Astro research center starts online star exploration

Tags: Astronomy | PARI | stars

One of North Carolina's science treasures, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, has started a public access Web site that will allow anyone, from anywhere, to help classify and identify stars and other cellestial bodies.

The new program, called SCOPE, opens the center's photographic data archive to the public, at The archive includes photos collected from astronomers in North America from the mid-1800s to the 1990s.

By opening the images to the public, scientists hope to generate interest from students and amateur astronomers to help classify many of the cellestial objects using calculations of temperatures and luminosities, said PARI Research Director Dr. Michael Castelaz:

“Only about 20% of these spectra have been measured and classified by a
small group of people. Expanding the effort to a worldwide distributed
effort will allow us to classify all of the stars, most of which have
unknown natures. We will make a significant impact on understanding the
stellar component of our Milky Way Galaxy.”

Castelaz said the information recorded through SCOPE will
become a permanent part of the collective knowledge about the universe.

For more information about PARI, go to



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