Dr. Schlegel works in the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Program, which has used the Observatory to map the universe by order of magnitude. He said the technology only requires 600,000 custom-ordered parts to assemble.
Before reaching the firefighting structures, firefighters cleared flammable materials around them as a form of protection. However, exposure to high temperatures may have affected the equipment in ways that were not immediately noticeable.
“Most likely, there will be smoke loss or dust intrusion into the telescope and instrument,” he said. Said Schlegel. However, he added that if any of them stopped working for the Observatory for a few months, “it would be better than restarting.”
The buildings that were damaged were mainly dormitories where researchers and students slept through the night using binoculars and other equipment.
Dr. Michelle Edwards, associate director of the Observatory, said communities in the area are not clear, although they are close. He visited the Observatory on Saturday, with firefighting teams in protective gear.
Dr. Edwards said he saw “a fire at the top” and damage to the observatory’s electrical systems along the mountain road. He said scientists may not be able to return for at least six weeks unless a major change in weather, such as a hurricane, helps put out the fire. The 10-day forecast for Kit Peak includes the possibility of rain starting Tuesday National Weather Service.