Initially developed by NASA in 1962 to track satellites and monitor manned space flights, PARI was established in 1998 to become a recognized center for world-class research while providing STEM educational opportunities for all levels of students: K-12, undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral. Located in Pisgah National Forest about 30 miles southwest of Asheville, the 200-acre campus is a well-protected site for astronomy. Scientific instruments at PARI include: two 26m (85ft) radio telescopes, a 12.2m (40ft) radio telescope, a 4.6m (15ft) radio telescope (dubbed “Smiley” and operated remotely by students and teachers), a high frequency Jupiter-Io/Solar antenna, 11 optical telescopes on the PARI Optical Ridge, five weather & atmospheric monitoring stations, & various environmental monitoring instruments. On campus is a Mineral & Meteorite Museum, group housing & Smiley's Restaurant.

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