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Policy and funding

Arecibo Observatory lives on, but with less money

17 Nov 2017 Michael Banks
tograph of the Arecibo radio telescope
Keeping going: the Arecibo radio telescope

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it will continue to support the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which was hit by a hurricane on 20 September. In a statement, the NSF says that it will keep the radio telescope working, but will reduce annual funding for the observatory from $8m to $2m within the next five years. The US-government agency is now looking for another partner to take on the bulk of Arecibo’s funding.

New facilities

The decision to reduce funding in Arecibo comes as the NSF faces tight budget constraints, related to the construction of new facilities, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that is being built in Chile.

“This plan will allow important research to continue, while accommodating the agency’s budgetary constraints and its core mission to support cutting-edge science and education,” says a statement from the NSF.

Built in the 1960s, Arecibo is a 305 m-diameter antenna that is built into a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico’s limestone landscape. It is one of the world’s largest radio telescopes and astronomers have used Arecibo to discover the first binary pulsar and the first extrasolar planets.

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