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About the Kōkeʻe Park Geophysical Observatory

Pacific Missile Range Facility and Kōkeʻe Park Geophysical Observatory Real Estate Environmental Impact Statement


NASA’s Kōke‘e Park Geophysical Observatory (KPGO) is located on a remote ridge within Kōke‘e State Park. NASA operates the observatory to collect geodetic data that contributes to daily measurements of the Earth’s orientation in space and rotation. This data is used for scientific studies and a wide variety of positioning and navigation applications. For more information, visit

About the Land Lease

NASA currently has leaseholds and easements of 23 acres of State of Hawaiʻi land for operation of KPGO. NASA has issued a Use Permit to the Navy for use of portions of KPGO for the purpose of conducting PMRF mission support with radar, telemetry, and communications services. 

NASA proposes to maintain long-term use of the 23 acres of State lands at KPGO for data collection efforts of global and local significance.

The Navy and NASA existing real estate agreements for State lands were established in 1964 and 1965 and are set to expire between 2027 and 2030.

What is KPGO?

The Kōke‘e Park Geophysical Observatory (KPGO) is one of the core sites for NASA’s Space Geodesy Project (SGP). The mission of KPGO is to collect geodetic data to support the geolocation of Earth observation from both land and space as well as scientific investigations of the Earth’s surface and interior.


Why is KPGO Important?

NASA and the scientific community use the data collected by KPGO to study ecosystems, water cycles, geological hazards, sea-level change, crustal-dynamics, and many other Earth science topics. Many of these applications rely on the long history and continuity of the geodetic data collected from the current KPGO location.


Why Kōke‘e State Park?

KPGO is in Kōke‘e State Park at an elevation of 3,600 feet near the Waimea Canyon, isolated from radio broadcasts that would interfere with the sensitive scientific measurements made by the VLBI system. The location on the island of Kaua‘i is also critical for tying the Hawaiian Islands into the ITRF that contributes towards improving positioning and navigation accuracy on and around Hawai‘i.

What is the Space Geodesy Project at KPGO?

The SGP maintains a global network of space geodetic observing instruments. The network is comprised of sites around the world that use four primary observation techniques:

  • Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)
  • Satellite Laser Ranging
  • Doppler Orbitography by Radiopositioning Integrated on Satellite (DORIS)
  • Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

The International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) is determined by the observations made from the instruments listed above and is the foundation for virtually all Earth observations and georeferenced data used by society. This data is fundamental for:

  • Positioning and navigation in space/air and on land/sea
  • Tracking sea level changes
  • Tsunami early warning systems
  • Volcano deformation measurements
  • Predicting flood patterns
  • Studying glacier dynamics