Training squadron adds new scope to training

Students at the 392nd Training Squadron check out the new telescope, Sun Gun. The scope stands more than 7 feet tall and 4 feet long.

Students at the 392nd Training Squadron check out the new telescope, Sun Gun. The scope stands more than 7 feet tall and 4 feet long.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 392nd Training Squadron recently acquired a new piece of equipment for use in training that will give the students the ability to make real-time observations of the sun during daylight hours. 

The Training Device Design and Engineering Center, which is within the 30th Operations Support Squadron, built the solar tracking telescope, or "Sun Gun," for the 392nd TRS. The telescope is intended for use in future Space 100 classes. It will allow direct observation of sunspots and solar flares safely by day. 

"This polar axis moves the scope in right ascension, or how high up the sun is in the sky," said Joaquin Tinker, the telescope desginer. "The other axis moves in declination, which is the spot where the sun comes up every day relative to zero degrees East Latitude. This arrangement allows the scope to track the sun without computer aided controls by rotating the polar axis using a clock drive motor." 

The Sun Gun is made of aluminum alloy which makes it light-weight, but durable. The telescope stands more than 7 feet tall and 4 feet long; however, it can be adjusted to a further height on the frame. 

"The new Sun Gun is vital to the Air Force Space mission," said Timothy Strickland, a Space 100 instructor. "The optical imaging of the sun allows for advanced warning of solar events which have the ability to disable and destroy critical space capabilities that are vital in executing the Global War on Terror. 

"The Sun Gun will provide a functional example of real-time solar imaging through optical projection." 

Operationally, the Sun Gun uses tracking and observation methodologies employed by space control for crucial collision avoidance and space warning capabilities.
It also provides crucial space situational awareness for successful execution of Air Force, joint and allied missions. 

Observations submitted to North American Aerospace Defense Command for updating the catalog of man-made orbiting objects are produced in a similar manner as the Sun Gun operation.   

"From an educational and training stand point, the Sun Gun gives an interactive experience for possible mission-impacting solar phenomena and operational principles critical to our space mission," said Mr. Strickland. 

The Sun Gun was delivered to the 392nd TRS Tuesday and will be incorporated into Space 100 soon.