The world’s largest radio telescope is in danger of being closed due to lack of money according to this MSNBC article:
Yet, for want of a few million dollars, the future for Arecibo appears grim.
The National Science Foundation, which has long funded the dish, has told the Cornell University-operated facility that it will have to close if it cannot find outside sources for half of its already reduced $8 million budget in the next three years — an ultimatum that has sent ripples of despair through the scientific community.
The cash crunch stems from a “senior review” completed last November at NSF. Its $200 million astronomy division — increasingly committed to ambitious, new projects but long hobbled by flat congressional budgets — was facing a deficit of at least $30 million by 2010.
“The ambitions of the astronomy community for new things was far outstripping the capacity of the federal budget to cover them,” said Wayne van Citters, NSF’s astronomy division director, who organized the independent review. The result was a tough-love ranking of priorities that hit Arecibo hardest but also put intense pressure on the New Mexico-based Very Long Baseline Array, a collection of 10 radio telescopes, whose staff was also told to start paying for half its costs or face closure in 2011.
In order to save it astronomers may be reduced to the following:
“Imagine the word ‘Google’ painted across that 19-acre dish,” Kerr said. “What do you think that would be worth?”
What is the world coming to?
Filed under: Astronomy |