M. Smith Abstract

The Turn of the Millennium - CTIO 1993-2003

M. Smith (NOAO/CTIO)

The decade 1993-2003 was a particulary exciting time to be at Cerro Tololo - for most staff members.  Tough times at the beginning involved staff reductions of 15 staff members - the worst moment of my professional career. In return, the observatory was granted a period of stability in which it was possible to rebuild morale which in turn helped the research climate to recover rapidly.  Emphasis was given to improving the image quality at the Blanco 4m (led by Jack Baldwin), while quietly supporting efficient operation of the smaller telescopes (led locally by Alistair Walker) via the development of the SMARTs consortium.  In 1998 came the high point - the announcement of the discovery of Dark Energy that showed us all how much we still have to learn about the universe; this work depended crucially on the work of staff members at CTIO and students from Chile and Argentina.  The Interamerican nature of CTIO also laid the crucial groundwork (in which Joao Steiner was crucial) for Brazil's involvement in SOAR and Gemini.