Press Release

Earthquake Update from W. M. Keck Observatory

By SpaceRef Editor
October 17, 2006
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Kamuela (October 16th, 2006) The W. M. Keck Observatory is recovering from a 6.6-magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks that struck off the west coast of Hawaii Sunday morning at 7:07 a.m. HST. The earthquake was the largest to hit Hawaii in 20 years and caused power and communication failures across the state. There were no injuries at W. M. Keck Observatory and all personnel are safe.

The Observatory has cancelled observing through Wednesday night and Observatory personnel are in the process of bringing the facility into a safe state. The telescopes and instruments will be returned to full functionality as soon as possible.

As of Monday afternoon, summit technicians report that the primary mirrors of both Keck telescopes are intact and do not appear damaged. However, some guiding and pointing systems have been impaired and must be returned to normal before Observing can resume. As of Monday, officials estimated it would take a few days to return Keck I to operational status. It will take at least this long to restore Keck II functionality. There is no damage to observatory computers or servers and all data has been backed up and is safe. Power has been restored to all headquarter and summit facilities.

“We have a great team for circumstances like this, and everything that we are doing is about getting the telescopes working on-sky as soon as we can in a safe manner,” said Observatory Director Taft Armandroff. “There has been an amazing amount of dedication and resourcefulness by staff at the summit last night and today, and I am very impressed.”

The headquarter facilities will be open on Tuesday.

Scheduled observing teams are encouraged to contact Observing Director Bob Goodrich at (808) 881-3869 with questions about specific instruments or travel to Hawaii.

This Web site will remain a source of information and updates. For more information, please call the Observatory’s Public Information Office at (808) 881-3827 or send an e-mail to: newsletter@keck.hawaii.edu.

Media Contact:

Laura K. Kinoshita
W. M. Keck Observatory
65-1120 Mamalahoa Hwy.
Kamuela, HI 96743
(808) 885-7887
newsletter@keck.hawaii.edu

SpaceRef staff editor.