Arecibo Observatory opening a world of opportunities
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The world's largest radio telescope is facing a critical budget crisis. It is threatened with closure if it can not operate with a drastically reduced budget beginning in March 2010, when the budget will be cut from $10.5M to $4M from the NSF Astronomy Division. The need to respond to a reduced budget while carrying out critical infrastructure projects has already resulted in a 20% reduction in staff.
The deliberations of the Senior Review panel that resulted in these funding cuts was made despite acknowledging the unrivaled sensitivity of the Arecibo radio telescope and its many scientific discoveries. Also noted by the review panel was the volume of letters received from astronomers writing in support of continued operation of Arecibo.
We believe that Arecibo's relevance has grown with the years. The decades of cutting edge scientific accomplishments continue due to a series of upgrades that have maximized the telecope's unrivalled sensitivity. Discoveries concerning the solar system have twice graced the cover of the journal Science since November 2006. The sensitivity of the Arecibo planetary radar is 20 times greater than any other means for tracking near-earth asteroids which are potentially catastrophic for life on earth. Furthermore, the visitor center and educational activities are the largest for any NSF-funded facility.
Our mission is to establish a new funding model to supplement NSF support and maintain operations of the observatory now and into the future.