Violence and insecurity threaten Mexican telescopes

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The Large Millimeter Telescope in the Mexican state of Puebla has severely reduced scientific operations in the wake of carjackings and robberies. Violence and insecurity threaten Mexican telescopes By Lizzie WadeFeb. 6, 2019 , 5:15 PM Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo The HAWC has been less affected. The observatory, also a joint U.S.-Mexico project, looks for gamma rays and cosmic rays that bombard Earth by recording the blue glow of Cherenkov radiation produced when these high-energy particles pass through large tanks of purified water. Unlike the LMT, it is operated remotely, which means it can “continue with normal operations, taking data day and night,” says Andrés Sandoval Espinosa, an astrophysicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and a HAWC spokesperson. So far, its researchers and personnel have not been threatened or harmed. But a planned visit for equipment repairs has been canceled, says Petra Hüntemeyer, an astrophysicist at Michigan Technological University in Houghton and a HAWC spokesperson. “We decided to be on the safe side.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Two astronomical observatories in Mexico have scaled back access and operations because of security threats, Mexico’s National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) in San Andrés Cholula announced on 5 February. The Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) and the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC) are both located on the Sierra Negra volcano in the Mexican state of Puebla. The highway leading to the mountain has become a target for carjackings and robberies in recent weeks, as a fight intensifies between the Mexican government and fuel thieves. Scientists and technical staff have stopped visits to the HAWC, canceling a planned repair trip, while the LMT has reduced its scientific operations to “the bare minimum level,” says INAOE astrophysicist and LMT Director David Hughes. “I cannot responsibly continue the scientific operation of the telescope until these issues are addressed.”The LMT is a single-dish telescope that works at millimeter wavelengths. The joint U.S.-Mexico project is part of the worldwide Event Horizon Telescope that is trying to image a black hole. Normally, the LMT would host scientists for observations at night and maintenance and engineering crews during the day. It was poised to start observations with a new 50-meter dish, up from 32 meters, before what Hughes calls “a severe security incident” caused him to dramatically reduce operations. He declined to describe the incident or say exactly what is being done to protect employees and collaborators. Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country This is the first time that security threats have had such a dramatic effect on both observatories. The Sierra Negra region has become a center of a government crackdown on organized crime groups that steal oil and gasoline from pipelines to sell on the black market. Much of the fuel destined for Mexico City passes through pipelines in the region around Sierra Negra. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has temporarily shut down some pipelines and sent soldiers to guard others. Criminal groups have intensified their efforts and violence in response.last_img

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