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Proceedings Paper

Strategies for personnel sustainable lifecycle at astronomical observatories and local industry development
Author(s): Eduardo A. Bendek; Michael Leatherbee; Heather Smith; Valentina Strappa; Hans Zinnecker; Mario Perez
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Paper Abstract

Specialized manpower required to efficiently operate world-class observatories requires large investments in time and resources to train personnel in very specific areas of engineering. Isolation and distances to mayor cities pose a challenge to retain motivated and qualified personnel on the mountain. This paper presents strategies that we believe may be effective for retaining this specific know-how in the astronomy field; while at the same time develop a local support industry for observatory operations and astronomical instrumentation development. For this study we choose Chile as a research setting because it will host more than 60% of the world’s ground based astronomical infrastructure by the end of the decade, and because the country has an underdeveloped industry for astronomy services. We identify the astronomical infrastructure that exists in the country as well as the major research groups and industrial players. We further identify the needs of observatories that could be outsourced to the local economy. As a result, we suggest spin-off opportunities that can be started by former observatory employees and therefore retaining the knowhow of experienced people that decide to leave on-site jobs. We also identify tools to facilitate this process such as the creation of a centralized repository of local capabilities and observatory needs, as well as exchange programs within astronomical instrumentation groups. We believe that these strategies will contribute to a positive work environment at the observatories, reduce the operation and development costs, and develop a new industry for the host country.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 August 2014
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 9149, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V, 91491L (6 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057110
Show Author Affiliations
Eduardo A. Bendek, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Michael Leatherbee, Stanford Univ. (United States)
Heather Smith, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Valentina Strappa, Chilean Ministry of Economy (Chile)
Hans Zinnecker, SOFIA Observatory, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Mario Perez, NASA Headquarters (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9149:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V
Alison B. Peck; Chris R. Benn; Robert L. Seaman, Editor(s)

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