A Hazy Future for a ‘Jewel’ of Space Instruments
This is sad, we need an endowment to keep it going, 100M will do it.
The Arecibo radio telescope is a thousand feet wide and 167 feet deep.
Published: November 20, 2007
The next time an unexpected comet shows up in the inner solar system, Amy J. Lovell may not get time at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to observe it before it swings back out.
Steven J. Ostro/J.P.L. and Daniel J. Scheeres/University of Michigan
An image of the near-Earth asteroid 1999 KW4 produced by the telescope’s radar systems.
Tomas van Houtryve/Associated Press
Budget problems have led to staff layoffs, and observing hours are to be cut.
With a quarter of its annual budget slashed, to $8 million from $10.5 million, Arecibo will be listening to the universe less often in the coming years. For researchers like Dr. Lovell, a professor of astronomy at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, that may mean her work — detecting radio waves emitted by ions from busted-up water molecules — will take years longer to complete.
“I’m prepared to live with that,” she said.
More alarming would be the closing of Arecibo in four years, a possibility that has been raised by the National Science Foundation, which pays for the operation of the telescope. “Then I’m completely up the creek without a paddle,” Dr. Lovell said