Out of this world . . . LeoLabs co-founder Michael Nicolls and Maniototo school pupils are flanked by the LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar in Naseby last week. PHOTO: PAM JONES

Maniototo school pupils were centre stage at the opening of an out-of-this-world facility last week.

School groups were shown around LeoLabs’ space radar by LeoLabs co-founders Dan Ceperley and Michael Nicolls and other Maniototo residents were also invited to tour the Naseby facility.

Naseby farmers Phil and Jo Dowling, on whose land the radar is situated, were special guests at the opening. Mr Dowling said it was great to be involved with people at the “cutting edge of technology”.

The state-of-the art Kiwi Space Radar is the first in the southern hemisphere and only the third worldwide.

It would help “clean up space” by tracking space debris as small as 2cm in diameter, Mr Ceperley said.

At present, only objects as small as 10cm in diameter can be tracked. But the Naseby radar would be able to track the 95% of space debris that was at present untracked – an estimated 250,000 additional objects.

He said among the “really cool” things to come out of the project were the “connections” made with the Maniototo community.

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