U.S. opts to not rebuild Puerto Rico telescope
16:47 JST, October 19, 2022
SAN JUAN (AP) — The National Science Foundation announced Oct. 13 that it will not rebuild a renowned radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which was one of the world’s largest until it collapsed nearly two years ago.
Instead, the agency issued a solicitation for the creation of a $5 million education center at the site that would promote programs and partnerships related to science, technology, engineering and math.
It also seeks the implementation of a research and workforce development program, with the center slated to open next year in the northern mountain town of Arecibo where the telescope was once located.
The solicitation does not include operational support for current infrastructure at the site that is still in use, including a 12-meter radio telescope or the Lidar facility, which is used to study the upper atmosphere and ionosphere to analyze cloud cover and precipitation data.
The decision was mourned by scientists around the world who used the telescope at the Arecibo Observatory for years to search for asteroids, planets and extraterrestrial life. The 305-meter-wide dish also was featured in the Jodie Foster film “Contact” and the James Bond movie “GoldenEye.”
The reflector dish and the 900-ton platform hanging 137 meters above it previously allowed scientists to track asteroids headed to Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and determine if a planet is potentially habitable.
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