November 30, 2022

Famous radio telescope saved. NSF will pay for repairs after Hurricane Maria

The National Science Foundation will seek partners to provide additional financial support for the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The decision by the US government agency was welcomed with relief by the scientific community. The famous radio telescope was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria.

Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico, kt ry devastated the island, astronomers working at the Arecibo Observatory still have no running water. There are still problems with electricity and telephone connections.

Hurricane Maria caused severe damage across the island. In Puerto Rico alone, it led to the deaths of dozens of wasps b. The radio telescope was also damaged. The strong winds severely crippled the smaller 12-meter canopy of the radio telescope and caused significant damage to the canopy of the deep nej. The wind ripped out some 20 aluminum panels the size of 1×2 meters, with kt which the structure is built. It suffered Also the very sheathing of the canopy. From a receiver suspended 150 meters The antenna used to study the g rne layers of the atmosphere, which ra hit the canopy, puncturing it in several places. The roofs of some rych buildings in belonging to the observatory were torn off. The catchment area under the head The structure was flooded.

Arecibo astronomers feared that the damage caused by Hurricane Maria would be the nail in the coffin of the famous observatory. It was not certain that the National Science Foundation (NSF) – a US government agency that lectures about two ch thirds of the observatory’s annual budget, which ry brings to about 12 million in dollar , maintains funding.

In the face of recent budget cuts by the Donald Trump administration, the NFS is having to look for $40 million in savings annually. The agency is currently focusing on building and operating new observatori (m.in. Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii or the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile) and would be happy to get rid of the need to fund a radio telescope.

NSF estimated the damage to the observatory caused by Hurricane Maria in the range between $4 million and $8 million and fortunately has decided to continue supporting the observatory in co he cooperation with existing partners. Importantly, the agency has pledged to fund all repairs.

– This is very good news for the Arecibo Observatory and a huge win for the entire scientific community. We are certainly relieved after this NSF decision – admitted Francisco C rdova, director of the observatory. – I am pleased that the decision-makers at NSF made the right decision. I am glad that the observatory will survive – wt rsed by colleague Edgard Rivera-Valentín working also in Arecibo.

However, the NSF has also decided that over the next five years, it will reduce the annual contribution from $8.2 million to 2 million. The rest is expected to come from partner institutions. NASA supports the observatory with about $3.6 million each year. NASA is to be joined by as yet unspecified organizations and plac ki.

The radio telescope near Arecibo in p he northwestern part of Puerto Rico is the second largest such observatory in the world. Its canopy has a diameter of 305 meters. Until 2016, it was the largest single-canopy radio telescope. Currently, the title of largest has gone to China’s FAST radio telescope, kt rego canopy has a diameter of 500 meters .

Arecibo Observatory was put into operation in 1963. Since then, the radio telescope has been repaired and improved several times. It is now a multipurpose facility. It can act as a passive radio telescope, but Also as a radar. It has made many important scientific discoveries. In 1968, the first dow there was obtained d existence of neutron stars. In 1974, Russel Hulse and Josep Tylor n the Arecibo Observatory they also discovered the first sub jny pulsar system in and with its help they confirmed the correctness of the theory of relativity, for which p They were later honored with a Nobel Prize. There is also a Polish thread associated with this radio telescope. 1990 Aleksander Wolszczan together with Dale Frail discovered the first extrasolar planets using this radio telescope.