Tech

Wildfires in Arizona could damage Kitt Peak National Observatory’s telescope


Located in the mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona, Kitt Peak National Observatory was threatened last week by the ongoing Contreras Fire. While the fire has affected more than 20,000 acres and disrupted work at the facility, the main scientific equipment so far appears to have remained unscathed.

The scientific community feared the worst, but over the weekend, the National Science Foundation’s National Science Foundation’s National Infrared-Optical Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), the organization that runs the site, had a Good news to share. “All the physical science observatory structures are still standing,” NOIRLab said in a statement Discovered . However, in a The organization said the fire destroyed four support buildings on June 17.

The facility’s official Twitter account says NOIRLab staff will have to conduct a thorough assessment of the observatory’s areas to determine the full extent of the inferno damage. “This process may take several weeks”, account . “Restoring services (electricity, etc.) may take even longer.”

The telescope is not yet safe. The Contreras Flame continues to burn in and around the area of ​​Kitt Peak National Observatory. As of Monday, 350 firefighters were working to contain the blaze .

Kitt Peak’s potential destruction comes more than a year after The receiver platform collapses into its iconic 1,000-foot wide antenna. Puerto Rico has to rebuild the telescope, but the future of the facility is unclear. Kitt Peak may be less famous than Arecibo, but it’s no less important. The facility’s Mayall telescope is the seventh largest optical telescope in the US and was used to explore the methane ice on Pluto when it was considered a planet.

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