On July 17th, at our halfway mark, the ELiTE SITE: Mexico team took our students on a field trip to visit the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT or Gran Telescopio Milimétrico http://www.lmtgtm.org). The LMT is the world´s largest single-dish steerable millimeter-wavelength telescope and is a joint venture between México and the US. It is the largest and most complex scientific instrument constructed in México designed for astronomical observations. At the LMT, out students learned about the science, engineering, and international collaborations required to make this technological wonder come to life. Also, many of our students experienced the phenomenon of snow for the first time!!
To reach the telescope, our students, ELiTE facilitators and INAOE staff set out in mini vans and trucks early in the morning for the two hour trip up to the telescope. This was the first time some of our students had left their hometown for any reason and for most, the first trip to a scientific site of such magnitude. The road trip itself was a great way for our students to bond, play games and enjoy the biodiversity and beautiful scenic drives of their country as we ascended approximately 4600 meters above sea level to where the telescope is located.
To our surprise, at our arrival we found the peak of the mountain covered with snow and heavy fog which made this field trip much more special for all of our students. For most, it was the very first time they saw snow and experienced cold weather. As we left the cars, they were jumping overjoyed, touching and playing with the snow and having their very first snowball fights! Our day was filled with surprises and unforgettable moments. We had hot drinks and typical tamales at the top of the mountain, toured the telescope and site and learned about its construction, current research and ongoing projects.
This day will go in the books as a highlight of our SITE: Mexico. Our students were able to see for themselves a massive scientific instrument and relate the knowledge of the previous classes to its design, construction and current operation and had an absolute blast enjoying the biodiversity of their home country. Stay tuned for the rest of our program and find additional pictures and day to day updates through our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/elite2009).