Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory [February 23, 2012]   [open pdf - 290KB]

"The Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory is a radio and radar telescope located in Barrio Esperanza, Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The Arecibo Observatory is managed, operated, and maintained by SRI International, under contract with the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2005-2006, NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) conducted a Senior Review of its portfolio of facilities. Among other things, the Senior Review was to identify potential reinvestment in the highest priority existing programs in AST and restructure the operational efficiency of the existing facilities. […] If alternate funding sources or partnerships could not be obtained by 2011, the review recommended dismantling the facility. In February 2011, a report of the Senior Review estimated that closure of the Arecibo could approach $88.0 million, approximately eight times its current operating cost. The Review determined that AST should carefully examine the priorities of continuing to operate older facilities while simultaneously transitioning to newer facilities. The issue before the 112th Congress is whether the Arecibo is more cost-effective than replacing it with newer, available technology. In June 2011, NSF announced that it awarded a $42.0 million, five-year contract to SRI international to manage, operate, and maintain the Arecibo. SRI International will partner with the Universities Research Association, the Universidad Metropolitana, San Juan, and the University of Puerto Rico. The Arecibo will, among other things, expand its research on the study of the ionosphere, the remains of imploded stars, and also search within and beyond the Milky Way for asteroids and pulsars."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40437
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