SOAR Telescope suspends science operations (with updates)

Updated March 26, 2020
Updated April 1, 2020

Due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the SOAR Telescope suspended all science operations after the night of Monday, March 16. Science operations have been suspended for all other NSF OIR Lab and tenant telescopes on Cerro Pachón and Cerro Tololo, among others. At this point no end date for the shutdown can be specified.

The NOIR Lab announcement can be found here.

As of March 18, SOAR is safely shut down and all staff are at home. We appreciate the effort of all involved in getting the telescope to this state quickly. Scientific staff in particular are tele-commuting and can still be contacted with questions. We will post periodic updates on the situation; the NOIR Lab site referenced above should also be consulted.

Once we determine is it safe to resume operations, it should be possible to resume operation fairly quickly, though the exact timing will depend on the duration of the shutdown and intervening events.

We encourage all our users to keep themselves and their families safe as well; we look forward to working productively together in the future.

Situation Updates:

April 1 -
A minimum crew went to the telescope yesterday (31st) to see how things were holding up after two weeks of shutdown. Everything seemed stable. Consumables (diesel and liquid nitrogen) should last for many weeks. Unless there is an episode of bad weather or specific failure, we will likely stay away until late April.

Jay Elias, Director