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The mission of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory is to advance United States astronomy. As a national center for optical astronomy, NOAO fulfills a three-fold role: To provide major telescope facilities for the nation's astronomers. To encourage the continuance of a strong research program by resident scientific staff. To develop new and innovative observing facilities and instrumentation.
Kitt Peak National Observatory operates the Mayall 4-meter, the 2.1-meter, and Coudé Feed, and the 0.9-meter. NOAO operates the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope on behalf of the WIYN Consortium, comprised of the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University and NOAO.
The National Solar Observatory facilities on Kitt Peak include the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, the world's largest solar telescope, and the Kitt Peak Vacuum Telescope.
Other institutions lease space for the operation of telescopes on Kitt Peak from the National Science Foundation, including the University of Arizona, Case Western University, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the MDM Observatory (University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, Ohio State University, and Columbia University), and the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA).