Arecibo To Close?

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?

5 Responses

  1. According to this article, published shortly after the Senior Review last year (emphasis added):

    The Senior Review report stated that the current surveys would be finished by 2010, which was a significant error. The surveys are actually expected to continue for at least another ten years.

    This error is, apparently, the rationale for the proposed closure in 2011.

  2. The Planetary Society has initiated a lobbying effort to restore funding:
    We can help, too!

  3. I’m sick about this. Arecibo is a beautiful facility in the karst formations of Northwestern Puerto Rico. The dish is built into one of the natural sinkholes in the area, and light can go through the dish material so the jungle is lush underneath. Just from the architectural standpoint of a high-tech facility in harmony with its natural surroundings, it deserves to be preserved.
    Why can’t one of the cruise lines bus tourists out there instead of overcrowding Old San Juan?

  4. From what I read in a couple of other articles it looks like it is pretty much a done deal. I hope the Planetary Society can help save it.

  5. From what I read in a couple of other articles it looks like it is pretty much a done deal. I hope the Planetary Society can help save it.

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