ATLAS Observatory is a location in Fallout 76.
Ostensibly a civilian astronomical research laboratory, ATLAS was actually a military weather modification project: The Atmospheric Terraforming Laser Accelerator System. It enjoyed limited success in its early months, mostly due to the apparent incompetence of Major Kirk Bentley. By the time he was replaced by Lt. Col. James Oberlin on January 24, 2076, the project was facing an ultimatum: Yield scaleable results by April or be shut down. 
Under Oberlin's oversight, the project moved ahead at a rapid pace. By March 12, prototype results started yielding effects: Dr. Hammond has succeeded in initiating light rainfall across a significant localized area. Funding for the ATLAS Program was provisionally extended under the condition that Hammond invest more research into more high energy weather conditions. Oberlin also gave ATLAS engineers the go-ahead to initiate construction of the accelerator even before the technology was complete. He did not inform Hammond of the fact to... Encourage the doctor to work more intensively and avoid significant development delays. 
This approach bore fruit. By August 20, the doctor has been able to produce a wide variety of weather conditions based on the data his team has been bringing into the lab. The latest prototype resulted in near-whiteout blizzard conditions, an unusual occurrence in mid-August. Some of the local media picked up on it, but not to the degree that the project could be endangered, LTC Oberlin made sure of that. The colonel was confident enough in the project to advocate for it during a meeting in the Pentagon, seeing a number of uses for the technology. The localized prototype wasn't going to be be much use in a war on its own, except during small skirmishes or certain clandestine operations. ATLAS needed funding to thrive.
He was successful. Over the next year, the Pentagon funneled men and manpower into the project, apparently convinced by Oberlin's logic that the system could diminish the threat of nuclear war by attacking the enemy with weather: Blanketing the nation in thick black clouds until the crops die out, wiping out naval ports with typhoons, or sending fierce lightning storms against vulnerable air bases to ground air units. The sky's the limit.
Despite his enthusiasm for the initiative, the ATLAS project was scrapped in October. Much to his surprise, the Pentagon cited the sheer cost of the project and associated risks. Although it made little sense to him, Oberlin planned to carry out his duties. Hammond, the head of the project, took the news poorly and had to be restrained by MPs to avoid hurting himself or others. Meanwhile, Oberlin started doing what he was ordered to: Falsify the data so that it made the project look like a failure. He knew better than to ask questions.
In spite of this and the ensuing war, Hammond continued to work on the project for another five months, replacing lenses, analyzing particles, stabilizing the accelerator, activating security robots and measures in the facility all to protect him and his life's work. Eventually ATLAS neared completion, but the fate of the project remains unknown.
Points of interest
- The heavily fortified "observatory" has an exterior area that contains a parking lot, a trail surrounding the facility leading to a back door, and a number of wrecked vehicles on the road leading into the facility.
- The facility is built around the central dome and the weather-modifying apparatus installed within. The lowest floor contains the robot control room on the northern side and the workshops on the southern, complete with armor and weapons stations. Just next to it is the loading dock, with planks giving access to the upper floor and a stairwell leading right into the basement and the base of the ATLAS device.
- The upper deck contains the director's office and research facilities together with the maintenance room on the northern side and the breakroom and restroom on the southern. There's a locked safe in the research office and a magazine spawn point in the break rooms. The stairwell on the southern end grants access to the topmost levels.
- The upper floor of the upper deck includes the prototype development laboratory on the southern side with a chemistry station and additional terminals with the weather analysis wing on the northern face (including the steamer trunk just outside).
- The top floor contains the ATLAS control room, together with the device itself.
- Holotapes and Notes
- ATLAS Research Log No. 293: The holotape is in the observatory basement, near a skeleton.
- ATLAS Research Log No. 104:
- Potential bobblehead
- On top of the viewing lens, in the huge domed telescope chamber (interior).
- Potential magazine
- On the low coffee table by the L-shaped couch, in the remains of the break room, south of the main circular chamber (interior).
- Other Loot
- ATLAS Director's Password:
- ATLAS Utility Key:
- Dynamic spawns
- Any ranged ammo
- Junk: Military ammo bag, military grade duct tape, dog tags, ballistic fiber scrap, military-grade circuit board
ATLAS Observatory appears in Fallout 76.
Behind the scenes
- The goal of controlling the weather is similar to the conspiracy theory around the HAARP or High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program which has been claimed to be researching weaponizing weather for the United States military.
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [1-24-76]
LTC James Oberlin Reporting as Chief Army Scientific Advisort to the ATLAS Program, replacing MAJ Kirk Bentley, who was deemed unfit for the role.
The ATLAS program is moving slower than expected. I'm here to do what I can to step it into gear.
It is by my discretion that Washington will cut funding if the prototype does not yield scaleable results by April. We should not continue to pay for construction of the ATLAS Accelerator if the technology turns out to be incompatible."
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [3-12-76]
Prototype results have yielded moderate success. Dr. Hammond has succeeded in initiating light rainfall across a significant localized area.
Funding for the ATLAS Program will continue under the condition that Dr. Hammond invest more research into more high energy weather conditions.
I've given ATLAS engineers the go-ahead to initate constuction of the accelerator while we continue to improve the underlying technology of the ATLAS system. However, in an effort to light a fire under their ass, I've made it clear that funding could dry up if we encounter any more significant development delays."
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [08-20-76]
Dr. Hammond has been able to produce a wide variety of weather conditions based on the data his team has been bringing into the lab.
The latest prototype resulted in near-whiteout blizzard conditions, an unusual occurance in mid-August. Some of the local media is picking up on it, but nothing has been directed our way. Security is tight and I trust the personnel here to keep things under wraps. The automated security system we've installed has a way of discouraging loose lips.
I've got a meeting tomorrow with the top brass back in Washington to go over military application for this technology. The localized prototype won't be much use in a war, but could prove useful during small skirmishes or certain clandestine operations."
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [8-17-77]
The ATLAS Project has been fully approved and funded for military applications.
This could prove to be a massive asset in the war effort against China. Imagine blanketing the nation in thick black clouds until the crops die out, wiping out naval ports with typhoons, or sending fierce lightning storms against vulnerable air bases to ground air units. Heck, we can even deploy ATLAS to quell any potential domestic uprisings. The sky's the limit here.
It is my assesement that the ATLAS system will diminish the threat of all-out nuclear war. No one would believe that a string of bad weather is under our control.
More bodies are being thrown at the ATLAS Accelerator, so we can hasten its production. Current projections place a completion date in the first quarter of next year."
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [10-18-77]
Two days ago, I received a letter from my superiors in Washington. From completely out of the blue, they were shutting ATLAS down. I was in total shock. I read the details and it was filled with the usual bullshit phrases like 'cost-cutting measures', 'risk assessment ratios' and 'taxpayer responsibilities.' It also said further instructions would follow.
This honestly doesn't make a bit of sense. I've decided to wait to discuss this with Dr. Hammond, as I'm certain hearing the news will send him off the deep end."
- ATLAS Observatory terminals: "Report [10-22-77]
As expected, I've received a follow-up letter from my commanding officer. I was to go back through all the data that Dr. Hammond collected and adjust the values and the results so that ATLAS looked like a failure.
Why were they burying the project that could shift the focus of the war? Why were they suddenly being so covert about the whole thing? I had a million questions, but I knew better than to call Washington and ask. Orders are orders.
I just broke the news to Hammond and he instantly flew into a rage. I had to get a couple of MP's to restrain him, I thought he was going literally kill me. Fortunately, he calmed down and then walked off the property without a word. I don't know if he'll be back or not, but I still have a job to do."
- ATLAS Research Log No. 293