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ARIZONA RADIO OBSERVATORY: CALL FOR PROPOSALS January 29, 2010

Posted by tfolkers in Announcements, Observer Information.
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Proposals are being solicited for observing time for the period February 15, 2010 – June 15, 2010, at the Arizona Radio Observatory, for the Sub-Millimeter Telescope (SMT) and the Kitt Peak 12 Meter. The SMT currently supports a dual-polarization, ALMA Band-6 1 mm receiver, a dual-polarization 0.8 mm receiver, and a new ALMA Band-9 (602-720 GHz) dual-polarization receiver. The 12 m supports 2 mm and 3 mm (65-176 GHz) dual-polarization receivers. A new ALMA Band-3 receiver is now available at the 12 m for 85-116 GHz band (3 mm HI), also dual-polarization. Remote observing is available at both ARO telescopes.

For more details see: http://aro.as.arizona.edu.

Information about Remote Observing can be viewed at: http://aro.as.arizona.edu/remote/remote.htm.

For further information about remote observing and other operational questions, please contact Tom Folkers, Operations Manager: tfolkers@email.arizona.edu.

Proposals should consist of:

  1. A proposal Cover Sheet, obtainable at http://aro.as.arizona.edu/proposals.
  1. A brief scientific justification (no more than 2 pages).
  1. A source list with observing time requirements and justification.

Proposals will be reviewed by the ARO TAC. Scheduling of successful proposals will be done according to availability of the receivers requested.

Electronic submissions will be accepted in PDF formats.

Please submit your proposals by midnight MST February 15, 2010 to:

Marty Benson: mbenson@email.arizona.edu


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The Great Blizzard of 2010 January 28, 2010

Posted by tfolkers in General Information.
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The period of January 17th through the 28th, 2010 saw a unprecedented amount of snow fall on Mt. Graham. Here are a few pictures and some emails chronicling the events.

01/18/2010 07:50 PM:
As of Monday evening (7:30 PM) we have had about 1″ of new snow with drifts to about 8″. We are expecting several more inches tonight with additional snow fall throughout the week. MGIO will dispatch plow operators Tuesday morning to begin plowing with the possibility of staying overnight to accommodate the Tuesday night and Wednesday storms. We are expecting more than 24″ of new snow by Wednesday evening. Storms are predicted to linger through Saturday night.
Please drive safely and heed all traffic control signs.

Thank you for your cooperation,
John R. Ratje

01/22/2010 06:29 AM
We received 24″ of snow overnight bringing our total for this series of storms to 60″  his week. We have all personnel deployed today moving snow – five machines  are working today including the big V-Plow. I don’t expect the road to be opened much before late afternoon. We will keep you posted.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

01/22/2010 08:52 AM
Access to MGIO is unofficially closed until further notice today. Weather conditions are not improving – National Weather Service is calling for another foot of snow today with additional storms through Saturday night.
Attached photos taken from the Vatican Observatory this morning. Another foot of snow will cover the Jeep completely.

The microwave to the site is down – there is no telephone or internet service at this time. The emergency phone is the only means of communication other than radio. Valley Telephone has been advised and they are responding. We have several inches of ice on the microwave antenna this morning.

Noon Creek washed over the paved road last night – lots of rocks and sticks on the road this morning. The creeks and washes coming off the mountain are running bank to bank. We have 6″ of snow at Wet Canyon and 10″ of snow just below the Turkey Flat cabins. ADOT will work only 8 hours today and will be back tomorrow. MGIO is “V” plowing the paved road (punching a hole with ADOT following up behind the V-Plow). Any access to the site will be very difficult even late afternoon today. Access will certainly require 4WD with all chains installed. The paved road will be rough. Hopefully we will be able to have the unpaved road open late afternoon. If predictions hold true we will have over 7.5 feet to 8 feet of snow on the ground this week.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

01/22/2010 05:01 PM
Heavy wet snow continues to fall on site. We received between 2 feet and 3 feet of snow since 6:30 AM today. Drifts on the access road are more than the loader plows can handle – nowhere to stack the snow being removed from the road surface. We expect another foot of snow tonight. The site itself has been reasonably cleaned up but to open the access road will require a snow blower.

The V-Plow which deployed this morning was not able to make it past Grant Hill and was redirected to the Base Camp to install the snow blower. We have received about 9 feet of snow from this storm so far – the snow level on site is about 6 feet – some of the snow is melting fast and running off the mountain. We have 4 maintenance personnel deployed at the site and the other 2 will be headed up with the blower tomorrow morning.

At this time (5:00 PM), the blower has been mounted on the loader and checked out. It will be headed up the hill at 4:00 AM tomorrow.

Concerning the communications – the Valley Telecom technicians have found no hardware problems. They believe that the 18 GHz microwave signal is being attenuated by the ice covering the microwave antenna. So at this juncture we will need to rely on the emergency phone on site or radio communications.

If things go well tomorrow morning, and barring any equipment issues, we may have the path widened to 8 feet by tomorrow afternoon.

Keep your socks dry.
John R. Ratje

01/23/2010 08:36 AM
We received another 14″ to 15″ of snow from Twilight Canyon to the top. We have a total of 7′ of snow on site this morning. This morning Rick Hansen at the LBT reports sunny beautiful scenery with birds singing. Well I don’t know about the birds. Apparently the emergency phone is not operating at the LBT this morning – however it is available at the VATT.

Snow Blower operations cranked up near Snow Flat at 7:50 AM. It is slow and go but the blower makes a hole in the snow. Plow operators on site have run out of room to stack the snow so the blower will assist greatly with removing the snow when it arrives. The blower should reach the site by early afternoon.

ADOT is tending to numerous cases of flooding in all areas around the mountain. They do have personnel plowing on the lower sections of Swift Trail and will be working all day. Snow levels on the road beginning at Twilight Canyon and on past Lady Bug Saddle are about 15″ with significant drifts.

If anyone is going to access the site today — the road will be mighty rough slogging until we can get several passes up and down the length of the road.

You can reach me on my cell phone – number listed below.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

01/23/2010 05:27 PM
Saturday 5:20 PM
We have not made connections yet – the snow blower is at the Ft. Grant overlook (the wall) with many trees down across the road. Shane Olsen and I are headed to the top in a snowcat – we are a travelling fuel depot. The snow blower and loader are running low on fuel and we are not able to get to the fuel tank on site yet. The paved road this morning going up was somewhat accessible but when Shane came back it was a mess.

The site crew has the access road opened to switchback 8 – the snow level on the road is 8′ deep and all we can do is “spoon” it out with the loader bucket – slow and go. I will be out of touch for a while until maybe tomorrow morning – radio and cell phone at times are the communication channels. Are personnel on site are doing OK – some have been there since Monday night.

More later,

John R. Ratje

01/25/2010 09:23 AM
The snow blower and snowcat machines headed up late Saturday afternoon (John and Shane Olsen), earlier Armando Alvarado had headed the Allison snow blower up the hill. We worked through the night until the blower turbocharger blew at 5:00 AM Sunday morning. Armando Alvarado rode the blower through the entire operation. We were able to get to Switchback 5 with the blower and the snowcat carved out a path to Switchback 6. Meanwhile the crew on top worked downhill with the “bucket” operation and cleared the access road from the MGIO site to Switchback 6. They decided, being very highly motivated to get off the mountain, to work late and opened the road to Switchback 1 by this morning. At this time (9:15 AM) we have machines at the bottom of the access road headed toward the gate. They have several tree falls to clear to make way for passenger vehicles (which will not be able to drive over them).

Regarding the priorities:

  1. We are in the middle of the Allison snow blower repair – we have storms coming in Wednesday / Thursday – thank you VATT and LBT – we appreciate the loan of the mechanics and operators! We have some tired, hungry folks who have earned some time to rest.
  2. We have to construct an adaptor plate to hang the newer Wildcat snow blower on the 4.5 yard John Deere Loader. That is under way at this time. That will give us a contingency backup on the blower operations. The loader that is ready to carry the Wildcat Blower is on site at the moment and not able to perform the blower function. The problem with snow blower operations – once a blower is used there is a “slot” in the snow – each storm (or wind) afterwards fills in the slot very nicely requiring a snow blower to remove the snow again. We haven’t used snow blowers for the past decade.
  3. Servicing the machines will be important to prepare them for the storms due in Wednesday/Thursday this week.
  4. Concerning the communications problems – we have worked successfully through severe ice storms in the past. The low signal strength problem may indeed be due to ice covering the microwave antenna – however in my estimation with the 95 mph winds it is more probable that we have an antenna misalignment. Valley Telecom technicians will be leaving the Base Camp at 8:00 AM tomorrow to inspect the microwave and align it if necessary. We are also looking at installing an antenna heater circuit to prevent ice build-up – however that won’t fix misalignment problems!

More later,
John R. Ratje

01/25/2010 01:26 PM
It is time for some good news! The MGIO snow plowing crew stranded at the top since Wednesday, are at Hospital Flat headed for the gate. They will return to the site and form up a caravan to get people off the mountain. At the same time we will have a caravan of people headed to the site – forming up at the Base Camp — leaving promptly at 1:00 PM. ADOT has opened the back side of the paved road for 4WD with chains. Chains will be required on the unpaved road too – snow pack about 4″ to 6″. Each vehicle should have the nominal shovel (as specified in the Steward Observatory Safety Manual) because it will be needed to dig the vehicle out of the snow. Caravan travel is to insure assistance along the way — having a number of people to help — shovelling snow at altitude is excellent cardio-vascular exercise. Lane widths are 1 to 1.5 lanes wide so two way travel is out of the question – travel on the mountain must be coordinated with the Base Camp. Pictures attached.

The snow blower has been repaired and is heading up this afternoon to continue work on the unpaved road. We thank the LBT and VATT crews who have graciously assisted the MGIO crew with the operations situation.

“Normal” travel to the site will resume tomorrow – with chains and shovels. It is strongly advised to continue a caravan approach at least this week.

Please drive safely and with utmost caution.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

01/26/2010 01:23 PM
The attached photo of switchback 6 is courtesy of Brenda Taylor. The last time I saw this area was at 6:00 AM on Sunday morning and we were about 20 feet higher than the “wall” in the photo (on top of the drift in a snowcat).

Roads are open for one way travel in most places on the unpaved road. The snow blower has been operating since mid morning and more snow is projected for Wednesday/Thursday this week.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

01/28/2010 05:17 PM
We received another 16″ of snow since last evening. The roads are very narrow and one way from sections of the paved road all the way in to the Observatory. We have to get the water truck up to pump the septic tanks post-haste – so the road plowing will be limited to the snow blower tomorrow.

The National Weather Service shows a light snow tonight – thank goodness with improving conditions until the next storm projected for next Wednesday. The snow blower operation is continuing. We have two persons on site to begin snow blowing in the morning.

Cheers!
John R. Ratje

0.4mmsis Receiver Installed January 13, 2010

Posted by tfolkers in Technical Information.
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The dual channel 0.4mmsis receiver has been installed at the SMT. But, due to a Winter storm overtaking the southern Arizona region, testing and commissioning has been delayed until next week.

Web Server Update. January 7, 2010

Posted by tfolkers in General Information.
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The ARO web server was hacked into over the holiday break. As a result a completely new system with the latest OS was installed this week.  As a side effect you may have experienced outages with our web server during this upgrade. We apologize for this.