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Thu Nov 26, 2020, 02:42 PM

Scientists, students demand action to keep Arecibo radio telescope operating


"The observatory is very important for science globally."
ByCristina Corujo
November 26, 2020, 12:10 PM
7 min read

After the National Scientific Foundation (NSF) announced last Thursday the demolition and decommission of the iconic Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, scientists, experts and many Puerto Ricans have taken to digital platforms to plead with the government to save the 57-year-old observatory.

Many including researchers and students are using #SaveTheAreciboObservatory and #WhatAreciboMeansToMe hashtags to share the observatory's impact in their lives and the scientific world. A Twitter account called Save the Arecibo Observatory has also been created.

"#WhatAreciboMeansToMe: More than a telescope," Kevin Ortiz, a physics student at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote on Twitter. For him, the observatory has had "an incalculable impact in the communities of PR."

Organizations including the Planetary Society are also joining the conversation on social media. "Arecibo Observatory touched the lives of so many people. Its scientific achievements enriched our understanding of the universe and helped protect our planet from asteroids," the organization said in a tweet.

More:
https://abcnews.go.com/US/scientists-students-demand-action-arecibo-radio-telescope-operating/story?id=74402568

Also posted in Science:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/122872797

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Reply Scientists, students demand action to keep Arecibo radio telescope operating (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2020 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 2020 #1
Judi Lynn Nov 2020 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 2020 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 2020 #4
PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 2020 #5

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 26, 2020, 09:40 PM

1. I'm going to guess that the telescope would probably need to be

completely rebuilt, and would no doubt cost a lot of money.

I've sent a request to My Son The Astronomer to see if he can shed any light on this.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 26, 2020, 10:15 PM

2. Maybe some deep-pocketed donors who care about the need for a replacement would contribute.

It's so hard to believe it's just gone, for crying out loud.

It always seemed something enormous could eventually come through that beautiful station.

Hope your astronomer son will hear some good news on the subject. He'd probably learn right away if something gets planned.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 26, 2020, 11:42 PM

3. He hasn't gotten back to me yet.

I'll post here after I can talk with him.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 11:41 PM

4. Finally spoke with My Son The Astronomer about this.

The Arecibo telescope has two ways of observing, as a radio telescope and as a radar telescope. There are any number of other radio telescopes out there, more than a hundred. You can check it out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_radio_telescopes

The radar telescope function is something else. There is only one other radar telescope in this country, Goldstone in California. Radar telescopes are good for certain, very specific things, and mainly with objects that are relatively close, inside the solar system. Apparently is radar that has allowed us to have some idea of what the surface of Venus might be like. Radar is also a good way to track things like comets and asteroids that might possibly pose a danger. So it's too bad we're losing Arecibo because from what I see in the wiki article about radar telescopes, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_astronomy it's far better than Goldstone.

But my son says there just doesn't seem to be the funding and the will to rebuild or fix Arecibo.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 11:48 PM

5. Here's something else that may be pertinent.

Telescopes can become obsolete. Sometimes they are formally decommissioned, sometimes they can be rebuilt or upgraded in some way.

I went to the adult astronomy camp through the University of Arizona several years ago. We got to operate a 60 inch telescope which was beyond cool. Apparently it was used to help find landing sites on the moon for the Apollo missions. But even by 2013, when I went there, it was hardly being used by regular astronomers. Which met it was readily available for both adult and teen astronomy camps.

I am not suggesting that Arecibo is at all obsolete. And it seems as if its radar function is needed. Maybe at some not to distant future point it will be repaired or rebuilt.

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