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View Full Version : U.S. to cease funding for Arecibo radio telescope. . .



Ronald Brak
2007-Sep-23, 12:52 PM
Eight million a year is apparently too much expense to justify the continued operation of the world's largest radio telescope dish.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/08/AR2007090801654.html

Larry Jacks
2007-Sep-23, 04:21 PM
From the article:

The National Science Foundation, which has long funded the dish, has told the Cornell University-operated facility that it will have to close if it cannot find outside sources for half of its already reduced $8 million budget in the next three years -- an ultimatum that has sent ripples of despair through the scientific community.

This suggests that the current $8 million a year is being cut in half. If they can find some international or corporate sponsors to pay $4 million a year then they can continue operations. This is one of those instances where the international scientific community has to decide if something they want is actually worth paying for out of their own pocket. Not everything worth paying for has to be paid for by US taxpayers.

Later in the article, there is this somewhat bleak assessment:

The cash crunch stems from a "senior review" completed last November at NSF. Its $200 million astronomy division -- increasingly committed to ambitious, new projects but long hobbled by flat congressional budgets -- was facing a deficit of at least $30 million by 2010.

"The ambitions of the astronomy community for new things was far outstripping the capacity of the federal budget to cover them," said Wayne van Citters, NSF's astronomy division director, who organized the independent review. The result was a tough-love ranking of priorities that hit Arecibo hardest but also put intense pressure on the New Mexico-based Very Long Baseline Array, a collection of 10 radio telescopes, whose staff was also told to start paying for half its costs or face closure in 2011.

Perhaps some SETI organization can pony up the funding. I'd hate to see either of these instruments downscoped or closed. However, in the face of flat or reduced funding and the desire for new instruments, something has to give unless new funding sources are found.

KaiYeves
2007-Sep-23, 05:50 PM
I informed my congressman of this and he said he'd never heard of it, so I gave him the Planetary Society website address.
If they do, I will ask to have my citizenship revoked.

Lurker
2007-Sep-23, 07:01 PM
This doesn't really surprise me. We have drastically reduced taxes in this country and are currently engaged in two costly wars.

Neverfly
2007-Sep-23, 08:56 PM
I informed my congressman of this and he said he'd never heard of it, so I gave him the Planetary Society website address.
If they do, I will ask to have my citizenship revoked.

Citizenship from the place shown in the Avatar?

Any comment I make in response to Lurkers post will be political. No matter HOW I think the words... It still comes out that way.
Dagnabbit!

KaiYeves
2007-Sep-23, 09:24 PM
Why, yes, I will return to Vega.

Neverfly
2007-Sep-24, 12:14 AM
I will point out that I find this news deeply disturbing.
If Arecibo is washed up or outdated- that is one thing.
But if it is productive it is WELL worth the cost.
If push came to shove and 8 million people all across the US and Puerto Rico ( Heck, why not the world?!) chip in a buck a year- We could keep it running.

Who thinks they can adopt a radio reciever for just a dollar a year?
Your dollar will provide little Arecibo with shoes, clothing, decent food and clean water - all for just a dollar a year...

novaderrik
2007-Sep-24, 03:42 AM
maybe the public would rise up to save it if Hollywood was to do a remake of "Contact" starring Jessica Simpson and the kid from "Transformers" and pack it with more sex and more explosions.

Neverfly
2007-Sep-24, 06:18 AM
maybe the public would rise up to save it if Hollywood was to do a remake of "Contact" starring Jessica Simpson and the kid from "Transformers" and pack it with more sex and more explosions.

Just explosiona and bumblebee please.
More than that and they'll lose my buck a year. Im tired of the sexxed up media.

Ronald Brak
2007-Sep-24, 06:44 AM
Basic research produces results that benefit just about everybody but is difficult to fund privately because it's hard to make a profit with it as it doesn't do much good if the results of the research are kept secret or access to them restricted. Since science has improved so many lives I'd be in favour of a system where people are required to contribute a tiny fraction of their income to a fund that is used for scientific research and distributed according to whatever seems most likely to produce the most benefit for humanity. But I doubt if this crazy idea will ever catch on.

galacsi
2007-Sep-24, 07:08 AM
Basic research produces results that benefit just about everybody but is difficult to fund privately because it's hard to make a profit with it as it doesn't do much good if the results of the research are kept secret or access to them restricted. Since science has improved so many lives I'd be in favour of a system where people are required to contribute a tiny fraction of their income to a fund that is used for scientific research and distributed according to whatever seems most likely to produce the most benefit for humanity. But I doubt if this crazy idea will ever catch on.

Let Get me out of doubt , isn't it something similar named "taxes" ?

Maksutov
2007-Sep-24, 07:12 AM
Pathetic.

Come on, January 20, 2009!

BTW, I'd write one of my senators, but his name is Trent Loot, uh, Lott, and he's too busy maintaining his hair helmet, among other things.

Larry Jacks
2007-Sep-24, 01:12 PM
Come on, January 20, 2009!

Just in case you have not noticed, legislation involving revenue issues start in the House of Representatives (under Democrat control right now). So, unless you're hoping that the Democrats lose control of Congress and hoping that will translate into increased science funding, you're out of luck.

Once again, just because something is good, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be funded by US taxpayers. If you can't find private or corporate sponsorship then perhaps the taxpayers of other countries can help pick up the tab. The article specifically mentioned that the problem is that the funding is flat and scientists want new toys instead of keeping their current ones. You might want to talk to them, too.

Ronald Brak
2007-Sep-24, 01:21 PM
Once again, just because something is good, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be funded by US taxpayers. If you can't find private or corporate sponsorship then perhaps the taxpayers of other countries can help pick up the tab.

Don't you think other countries might be a bit reluctant to fund an American telescope? Wouldn't it seem a bit odd for countries that are less rich than the United States to be funding a United States research facility? I think they'd probably be more interested in funding their own facilities. Unless of course you are simply reffering to offering a service and renting out telescope time. It's quite possible that something like that is already in operation.

Larry Jacks
2007-Sep-24, 10:39 PM
Don't you think other countries might be a bit reluctant to fund an American telescope? Wouldn't it seem a bit odd for countries that are less rich than the United States to be funding a United States research facility? I think they'd probably be more interested in funding their own facilities. Unless of course you are simply reffering to offering a service and renting out telescope time. It's quite possible that something like that is already in operation.

If this instrument is as good as they say then it should be able to attract other funding. How many (if any) of the radio astronomers who use this telescope come from other countries? If there are any, then either they (or their government) should be paying for part of the cost of operating the facility. If some other country is willing to pay for part of the cost, then they should have free access to operate the telescope in proportion to their contributions. If they're not willing to pay, then they should have to obtain their observatory time elsewhere.

KaiYeves
2007-Sep-25, 12:14 AM
But science is international.
Arecibo speaks for Earth.
Since 16 November 1974.

novaderrik
2007-Sep-25, 02:31 AM
just rename it the "International Radio Telescope" and get our "partner" countries to make some hardware for it and paint their flag on every part they build, and them let the Americans transport it and install it.
and then operate it.
then, we could shut it down right when it is getting up to speed and starting to be more useful.
hey, it works on the ISS, so why not at the IRT?