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Arecibo Observatory radio telescope, National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Arecibo Observatory Radio Telescope, National Astronomy And Ionosphere Center, Arecibo, Puerto Rico

A report by the division of Astronomical Sciences of the National Science Foundation, made public on 2006-11-03, recommended substantially decreased astronomy funding for Arecibo Observatory, ramping down from US$10.5M in 2007 to US$4M in 2011. If other sources of money cannot be obtained, the observatory would close. The report also advised that 80% of the observation time be allocated to the surveys already in progress, reducing the time available for other scientific work. NASA gradually eliminated its share of the planetary radar funding at Arecibo from 2001–2006.
Academics and researchers responded by organizing to protect and advocate for the observatory. They established the Arecibo Science Advocacy Partnership (ASAP), meant to advance the scientific excellence of Arecibo Observatory research and to publicize its accomplishments in astronomy, aeronomy and planetary radar. ASAP's goals include mobilizing the existing broad base of support for Arecibo science within the fields it serves directly, the broad scientific community, and the general public; provide a forum for the Arecibo research community and enhance communication within it; promote the potential of Arecibo for groundbreaking science, and suggest the paths that will maximize it into the foreseeable future; showcase the broad impact and far-reaching implications of the science currently carried out with this unique instrument.
Contributions by the government of Puerto Rico may be one way to help fill the funding gap, but are controversial and uncertain. At town hall meetings about the potential closure, Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth McClintock announced an initial local appropriation of $3 million during fiscal year 2008 to fund a major maintenance project to restore the three pillars from which the antenna platform is suspended to their original condition, pending inclusion in the next bond issue. The bond authorization, with the $3 million appropriation, was approved by the Senate of Puerto Rico on November 14, 2007, the first day of a special session called by Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. The Puerto Rico House of Representatives repeated this action on June 30, 2008. The Governor signed the measure into law in August 2008. These funds were made available in the second half of 2009.
José Serrano, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, asked the National Science Foundation to keep Arecibo in operation in a letter released on September 19, 2007. Language similar to that in the September 19 letter was included in the FY'08 omnibus spending bill. In October 2007, Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner (now governor), Luis Fortuño, along with Dana Rohrabacher, filed legislation to assure the continued operation of the facility. A similar bill was filed in the United States Senate in April 2008 by the junior Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton.

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Keywords:#arecibo #observatory #radio #telescope #national #astronomy #ionosphere #center #puerto #rico
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Date added:Aug 17, 2012
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