UMass has been active in creating research facilities since it first built the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory in 1969. Since then, the department has played a key role in the Two Micron All-Sky Survey, cataloguing an extensive number of celestial objects, and assisted in creating the Infrared Optical Telescope Array.
Its current and biggest project, the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico, is scheduled to be up and running this year. The 50m (150 ft) telescope, a vast improvement over the 14-m FCRAO, can look deeper into space and see regions obscured by particles that create stars and solar systems.
The Department is backed by a high-power computer cluster to solve complex astronomical problems to form simulations and models. The Department also maintains two laboratories for building instruments for the LMT. These laboratories are student-staffed, creating a hands-on learning experience.