MGO - McDonald Geodetic Observatory

MGO logolocation of the MGO on a map of the world

The McDonald Geodetic Observatory (MGO) is located near Ft. Davis, Texas and is co-located with a number of astronomical observatories. The site has been a pioneering site for lunar and satellite laser ranging development since the 1960s. The University of Texas at Austin developed and tested the first Transportable Laser Ranging System (TLRS-1) at the site during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first acquisition of LAGEOS by the MLRS occurred in August, 1981, and the first lunar acquisition occurred in August, 1983. In 1988, MLRS was relocated from its original location between Mt. Locke and Mt. Fowlkes to its current site on Mt. Fowlkes.

A permanent GNSS receiver is co-located at the McDonald site. A VLBA site is located approximately 8 km from the system. A VLBI system was located near that site but stopped operations in the 1980s.

Telescopes at McDonald Observatory

Telescopes at McDonald Observatory (Image credit: The University of Texas McDonald Observatory)

Recent news:

New MGO VLBI Antenna Passes Site Acceptance Test
02/26/2019

Intertronic Solutions Inc. completed the installation of the Space Geodesy Project’s new 12-meter VLBI antenna at the McDonald Observatory in Texas. An engineering room-temperature feed, developed and installed by MIT Haystack, was used to support the pointing tests. On February 15, 2019 several extragalactic sources were observed and the antenna successfully passed the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) on February 20, 2019. The MIT Haystack-developed cryogenic broadband signal chain will be installed in April after which the station will be ready to begin commissioning and participating in VGOS test sessions.

VLBI antenna at McDonald ObservatoryDORIS antenna in the foreground with VLBI antenna in the backgroundThe rear side of the VLBI antenna on its mount with a few people standing around it.The underside of the VLBI antenna with a person in a left near the top.

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