Armenia's Cosmic Ray Division Overcomes a Major Electrical Crisis on Mt. Aragats -Thanks in Part to Support from the Diaspora.
Severe Winter Weather
Winter in the mountain villages of Armenia is usually severe, with heavy snow, frigid temperatures and powerful winds. The weather on Mt. Aragats, where the two Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) high altitude scientific research and monitoring stations are located is even more severe. Snowfall is often several meters deep with winds in excess of 120 km per hours (80 miles per hour). White-out conditions are frequent with visibility less than 25 cm (10 in), and there is often a high risk of avalanches. It was under such conditions that, on the night of December 29, two of the electrical towers that provide electricity to the Cosmic Ray Division's high altitude "Aragats" research station at 3,200 m (10,000 ft) fell, cutting off its electricity.
Life Threatening Situation
The situation was extremely dangerous for the workers on shift at the Aragats station. A small emergency diesel generator was used to provide a minimal amount of electricity for cooking and heating at barely a subsistence level. Rescue crews were forced to wait for the weather to clear in order to attempt an ascent to repair the damage and resume the delivery of electrical power. Thanks to the joint project between the Cosmic Ray Division in Armenia, Nagoya University in Japan, and Stanford University in the U.S. (project grant ISTC-216 from the International Science and Technology Center) there was enough stored petrol and diesel at the Aragats stations to organize the repair expedition and operate the emergency diesel generator.
Electricity is Restored, People are Safe and Data Flows Again.
Beginning on January 3, rescue and repair crews attempted
to reach the damaged towers. Due to bad weather on the first day, the
tractors could not reach their destination and the crews spent the night
at the midway, Nor-Ambert, station at 2000m (6560 ft.) elevation. On
January 4 the weather cleared and the crews were ready to make the climb.
Thanks to the two tractors and the Caterpillar, which was repaired this
past summer with the funds contributed by the Diaspora, crews from the
Cosmic Ray Division and the electric company were able to make the dangerous
climb. After a full day of strenuous work, the crews returned to the
CRD's Nor Ambert research station to spend the second night there. On
the next day they made one more climb and completed the repairs. Since
the crew from the electric company had not been paid for over 6 months,
and there was no prospect of the company paying them soon, it was necessary
for the CRD to pay them directly for this work, possible once more due
to the recent contributions from the US Diaspora.
Words of Gratitude from Cosmic Ray Division Staff
"We, the staff of the Cosmic Ray Division and our leader, Prof. Ashot Chilingaryan, wish to thank the dedicated crew from our division and the electric company for putting their own lives in danger to make the necessary repairs and save the people trapped in the stations from a very difficult situation. We also want to thank the diaspora Armenians for supporting our work. Without their help, we would not have had the tractors in reliable working conditions to survive this very dangerous emergency, nor would we have been able to pay the crew from the electric company to make the necessary repairs that saved lives and our research on Mt. Aragats. We are grateful for our scientific partnerships in the US, Europe, and Japan. We are back in working condition and collecting the data to unravel mysteries of our universe and making practical progress such as understanding and developing the alert system for severe space weather caused by powerful explosions from the Sun. We continue our fruitful partnership with foreign institutions and we hope, our work is of benefit to humanity."
The Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) in Armenia conducts leading research in solar and high energy astrophysics. It operates two solar and cosmic ray stations on Mt. Aragats. These stations are manned by scientists and support personnel 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
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