Working in Chile

Traveling to Chile

Before traveling, please consider if your travel to Chile is absolutely necessary.  It is a long journey that burns your time and energy.  LSST has effective web-based communication tools that can be used in lieu of travel if your work requires collaboration.

If you are traveling on behalf of the LSST project, you will need to prepare a Travel Request (TR), Please refer to the LSST Travel link in the Resources drop down for more information.  Once your TR has been approved, please review the AURA Travel Advisory Letter and pay particular attention to the safety and security sections.  The TR also informs LSST administrative staff of your intent to travel so that they may know about your location and to help serve you better.  You will be coordinating your travel with the LSST Travel Administrator.

Before you go to the summit construction site, for your own safety and the safety of others, it is required that you get approval from the LSST Summit Site Manager, Eduardo Serrano It is also important for you to coordinate your work with the LSST Summit Site Manager as he knows about the hazards and activities that are going on at the site.

In addition to a valid passport that doesn’t expire for at least six months, you should have the following types of documents (depending on who your employer is) in your possession: the Cigna Secure Travel card, the AIG Travel Guard card, and the AIG Crisis Response card.

The LSST Travel Administrator has a cell phone that works in Chile and is programmed in English. If you are Tucson-based and plan on staying in Chile for a short period of time, you may use this cell phone.  The phone has useful pre-programmed contact numbers, including the phone number to the US Embassy in Chile (+56 2 2330 3000).

We highly discourage the use of rental cars when you are in Chile as there are added risks for you and LSST.  Please coordinate with the Site Administrators (, and they will arrange for you to be picked up at the La Florida Airport to get you to the AURA recinto or your hotel in the town of La Serena. The Site Administrators can help you with all your transportation needs in Chile.

Going to the Summit

We want you to have a safe and productive time in when working in Chile.  For that reason, we have put together a Brochure (Folleto) to help you understand the hazards and our expectations for you when at the summit construction site at Cerro Pachon.  The brochure's contents are considered minimum expectations we have for you when you are at the summit construction site, further details and requirements can be found in the LSST Safety Health and Environmental Plan (LPM-114).

The altitude of the Pachon Summit site is 2650m (8694ft) above mean sea level. Some workers working at the summit may experience Acute Mountain Sickness. Symptoms might include throbbing headache, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of appetite or vomiting. If any of these symptoms occur, relief can be obtained by descending to a lower elevation, drinking fluids, resting, and taking pain medication. If workers have concerns about working at this elevation, they should discuss it with their personal health care provider.  Further information about working at altitude can be found here Working at Altitude Safety Standard.

To get to the summit site, you are expected to use the Carryall/shuttle transportation that goes back and forth between the recinto at La Serena and the mountain tops of Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon.  Click here for the schedules.  The roads can be very hazardous, and you should leave the driving up to the people that have been trained.  In addition to being mindful of  the road hazards, you are expected to comply with the procedures, speed limits, and instructions given to you by the security guards at the gate.  If you feel you have a justifiable reason to drive, you first need to get authorization from the LSST Head of Safety and then review and understand the procedures for driving to the summit.

If you have questions please call or email me, Chuck Gessner LSST Head of Safety 520-318-8481.

More on Road Safety

Perhaps the most hazardous task that people do is driving a vehicle.    If you have to drive in Chile, you will need a valid license and you are encouraged to follow the local laws.  Public roads are fairly well marked and speed limits are posted in km/hr. 

If you are in need to travel from La Serena to the LSST site on Cerro Pachon you should coordinate your travel with the LSST Chilean office to arrange transportation to the mountain.  Again, if you are planning to drive a vehicle to the summit, you must recieve permission from the LSST Head of Safety and complete an online training module. Driving to the summit has specific hazards and contol measures that you should know about. Driving rented vehicles to the mountain is highly discouraged, if it is absolutely necessary to drive a rented vehicle to the mountain, you should also consider renting a SUV or truck and obtain a radio from the LSST Chilean office.  In addition, you will need approval from the LSST Site Manager to obtain access to the LSST construction site.  Company vehicles and shuttles have radios to contact observatory personnel if you are in need of help.  If you do drive, the road to the AURA property turn off is paved and generally busy.  Once you turn off the highway the road becomes gravel and is shown in white on the map below.  When you arrive at the AURA property check point, you will be greeted by a security officer and he will ask you several questions about your need to access the site. Print this brochure before driving in Chile.  The brochure informs you of the hazards of the road and what to do if you need help.  The security guards will be timing your drive for your safety, so please obey the posted speed limits and inform security personnel by radio that you have arrived at your destination.

Financial support for LSST comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded LSST Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the LSST camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.

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