Status of the MMT Observatory

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The MMT Observatory is working toward possibly resuming “Reduced Operations” on or shortly after May 26.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve used input and feedback from the entire MMT staff (and valuable input from others) to draft a very solid Operations Plan that outlines our strategies for mitigating risk. Because MMT observing is almost entirely queue-based or remote observing, we are able to limit and isolate the nighttime staff in a way that significantly reduces, and almost eliminates, the risk to them.

In a Reduced Operations mode, the number of onsite staff would be minimized and as such, the efficiency and continuity of observing will likely be impacted. We may also modify the posted schedule to minimize near term instrument changes. We currently plan to operate in this mode until summer shutdown and possibly even afterward.

We are hopeful that we’ll SAFELY get the MMT back on the sky soon, but we’ll obviously continue to monitor local changes in the evolution of the pandemic and will follow local and state orders and guidelines from the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution. Please be aware that, even after resuming, we may need to suspend operations again if warranted.

Stay safe and be well,
Dr. G. Grant Williams
MMT Observatory