Message to the LMT user-communities: Suspended LMT observations and delay to the release of the next Call for Scientific Proposals for the LMT 2024-S1 observing season.

August 18, 2023 – LMT Observations Temporarily Suspended

Suspended LMT observations and delay to the release of the next Call for Scientific Proposals for the LMT 2024-S1 observing season.

The electrical power sub-station of the LMT has suffered from the impact of unusually-strong seasonal electrical-storms and lightning strikes that have damaged both the transformers at the LMT site and the CFE electrical grid supplying electrical power to the site.

Given the uncertainty in the schedule to replace the damaged infrastructure and equipment, and to fully restore electrical power to the LMT, we have been forced to postpone the release of the next call for LMT scientific proposals and delay the start of the new observing season until January 2024.

We are exploring the possibility to temporarily operate the LMT for a continuous extended period using electrical power provided by our emergency-power diesel generators whilst waiting for the repair to the LMT electrical sub-station to be completed. Over the next few months (September – December 2023), and once a stable source of electrical power is restored to the site (using the emergency generators or the CFE electrical grid), the LMT engineering teams will begin a series of activities to improve the performance of the 50-m diameter primary reflector including photogrammetry measurements, the installation of a small number of upgraded primary surface-segments and installation of an expanded network of temperature sensors within the telescope structure.

Simultaneously the LMT scientific instruments will be cooled down, tested and made available to continue the approved 2023-S1 scientific program as soon as possible. The commissioning of the TolTEC instrument will also resume with the testing and performance characterization of the different TolTEC mapping-modes. The highest-priority A-ranked proposals (including those requesting TolTEC) from the 2023-S1 season that cannot be completed or attempted before the end of the year will automatically be carried over to the 2024 observing program.

Further details on the schedule for LMT observing opportunities during the remainder of the year, and the release of the next Call for Proposals to conduct a new scientific observing program in 2024, will be announced shortly. The first of a short series of LMT webinars, to provide more information on the LMT scientific and engineering activities throughout the remainder of 2023 and beyond, is scheduled to take place on September 6th 2023 at 15:00 UTC. Instructions on how to join and participate in this LMT webinar series will be made available via email and also described on the LMT webpage.