Thursday, 30 April 2009

CSO to close

It was announced today that the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) will be decommissioned, although fortunately for those employed there the closure date is seven years away in 2016. The site will be returned to its former natural state by 2018.

The reason for the planned closure, according to Caltech, is that a new next-generation submillimeter observatory called the Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope will be built in Chile and will essentially supersede the CSO.

One of the older telescopes on Mauna Kea, the CSO is one of the first telescopes you see when driving to the summit and is often described as looking like a giant golf ball, although I don't really subscribe to the description. Unfortunately I don't have any really good close-up shot of the CSO, but the photo above was taken late last year on a very wintry evening at the summit. The CSO is the telescope at the bottom right with the dish pointing just above my head!

I'm glad the observatory will be around for a few more years as there is some exciting science to come, especially with it linked up to the JCMT and SMA dishes to create the Extended Submillimeter Array (eSMA).


Zuzana said...

In some way I hate when things close down, it is a bit melancholic. Like a passing of an era, never to return. But what does this mean for you exactly; will you be out of work in seven years?

Tom said...

I don't work at the CSO so this doesn't affect me directly, but we're under severe financial pressure these days, so who knows what will happen. We're funded by the UK who appear to be in a complete shambles right now, especially when it comes to science funding.