However, the LMT/GTM is at a particularly difficult site for electromechanical systems. The high altitude has the usual effect of reducing cooling effectiveness for the drives and motors, and the ambient temperature hovers near freezing. Since there is a significant amount of precipitation during some times of the year, there are frequent freeze/thaw cycles. The constant formation and either sublimation or melting of ice, along with the associated high humidity, has been a challenge for the environmental protection of many devices at the LMT/GTM. Because there are a total of 720 primary surface actuators in the system, it is particularly important that the actuators, their local drive control boxes, and their cable connections be able to meet its specifications even under the site conditions.
To confirm the suitability of the actuators, the LMT/GTM procured an initial set of sixteen actuators for testing at the site. After laboratory testing, the actuators were installed into the outer two rings of the telescope and cycled during the early winter months of the 2015–16 scientific observing season. Because of the continuing installation activities in these two rings, they are not illuminated by the receivers, so field testing under actual operational conditions could be conducted without affecting the ongoing scientific observations. This paper presents the characterized performance of the actuators before and after testing, as well as a report on their environmental robustness.