The US Air Force installed a $2.5 million telescope Jan. 22 at a new research laboratory site in White Sands, N.M. The telescope is part of a system for improving the Air Force's ability to track missiles and destroy them with lasers. The 1-m telescope will send and receive laser light to and from the site and Salinas Peak, another White Sands site 35 miles away. They will track how the atmosphere affects laser beams and use special optics to compensate for the distortion. As part of the tests, the Air Force will launch several missiles as well as a Cessna plane equipped with detectors. The results are expected to benefit the Airborne Laser, a large aircraft equipped with a high-energy laser capable of destroying enemy ballistic missiles.