13July Update: MDM Information Regarding Covid-19 1

Monday, July 13, 2020 9:07 AM

We were fortunate to get up to the facility at the end of last month to run inspections throughout and ultimately address a failed UPS at the 2.4m, resulting in getting it back in service, enabling our systems to remain online through any electrical brownouts.  Other issues to note on-site were the proliferation of rodents and ladybugs.  While unfortunate, this was not an unexpected thing to find.  Fortunately, we were able to do a fair amount of cleanup and inspected things to an extent that raises confidence that for now, things look more or less ok.  Evidence of an increased rodent presence was not hard to find.  Telescope and instrument systems remain mothballed and un-tested/exercised.
With getting a couple visits to the site approved, my confidence that we might be looking at gaining more access to the site increased.  Then last week, my request for another visit to the mountain was denied.  This was followed up with KPNO staff forwarding me a new Tohono O’odham Executive Order that was put into place 02July.  After a bit of back-and-forth, the unfortunate decision to deny access to MDM facilities has been imposed by Kitt Peak management with an indeterminate end-date.  I’ve expressed my sincere and justifiable concerns that this raises in regards to not only potential hardships this may present when we do eventually get back to business, but more importantly, the safety risks associated with leaving a remote facility abandoned indefinitely.  But to no avail.  It is my understanding that this denial of access covers all tenants on Kitt Peak.  NOIRlab has in the meantime, continued maintaining a presence on the summit in order to monitor, clean and maintain their facilities.  I’ve put in a request to Kitt Peak management that they schedule staff to visit our site twice a week until we can get back ourselves.  I’m currently waiting to hear back.
Aside from the more localized back-and-forth detailed above, there have been no official updates or information from Kitt Peak or NOIRlab since 03June.

Stay safe.  Stay well.

Tohono O’odham Executive Order