ROSMAN, N.C. (WSPA) – Just outside of Rosman, North Carolina sits the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI).
Tim Delisle, the Director of Software Engineering for PARI, is well-versed on the site’s history.
”This site was originally built by NASA starting in 1961 and it was part of a network of sites around the globe that was designed to do some of the first communication ever to satellites.”
”A lot of satellite technologies were pioneered here at this location. The world’s first satellite telephone conversation was held here.”
”So NASA ran the site for about 20 years. After that, the Department of Defense came and ran the site for a while and they used it as a spy site, they were spying on other people’s communications satellites and probably a lot of other things that we don’t really know for sure what was going on here at that time.”
After the Department of Defense moved out in 1995, PARI started in 1998 as a not-for-profit with an educational mission.
Whether it’s during field trips or after-school programs, there’s a lot to see and learn.
It could be from the on-site collection.
”This little piece of rock here is what we call a Martian meteorite and these make their way to Earth when a really, really large meteorite smacks into Mars.”
Or it could be from one of the numerous programs.
They have four different summer camps this year.
”We have one called exoplanet exploration where students learn how to find and identify exoplanets and then plan a hypothetical mission to one.”
Active research is also being done here as regional universities are using on-site radio telescopes to scan the universe.
”Currently this thing is configured to be able to do things like nebulas and supernova remnants and portions of the spiral arms of the Milky Way pretty well.”
On the night of April 21, you have the chance to view the Lyrid meteor shower with astronomers and get a close look at other points of interest in the sky.
Advance registration is necessary. Click here and scroll down to “Scheduled Public Events”.
”You can come just for the evening, for a few hours. You can also choose a longer experience where you come here, you have dinner, we do some educational programming, and you stay the night…either in one of our cabins or camp out.”
What’s out there?
It’s a question that sparks interest in people of all ages.
”We’ll hear from people who were campers here years ago who will come back as interns or even become some form of scientist or engineer working in the space field themselves. They often will tell us that they got that initial inspiration from here, which is really great.”