Green Bank Observatory Director Karen O’Neil announced today that the Observatory will continue to operate as one of the premiere radio telescope observatories in the world under the most recent National Science Foundation (NSF) Record of Decision (ROD).
According to the NSF documentation, “after careful consideration of a variety of important factors … NSF now issues this Record of Decision (ROD) selecting Alternative A: Collaboration with interested parties for continued science-and education-focused operations with reduced NSF funding (Agency-Preferred Alternative) for implementation”. Adam Cohen, President Associated Universities, Inc, which operates the Observatory shared, “AUI is extremely pleased to see a positive resolution of the divestiture recommendation and we look forward to the GBO continuing to serve as a premiere scientific and educational facility within the US and the world for many more years.”
Since October 1, 2016, the Green Bank Observatory has been operated by AUI as a standalone facility when it was separated from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) to encourage and enable development of operational partnerships. In addition to a continued partnership with the NSF, the Observatory will maintain its relationships with Breakthrough Listen, the North American NanoHertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), and the West Virginia University Center for Astrophysics.
The NSF acknowledged the “scientific value of GBO remains high, as demonstrated by the capabilities of and demand for its premier instrument, the GBT” and that “hundreds of scientists use the GBT each year for research that spans virtually every field of modern astrophysics,” Director O’Neil also stated, “our focus looking forward is to ensure the GBT remains a competitive observatory well into the future, producing high quality science while maximizing access by the US astronomy community.”
In addition to the solid scientific research and results produced by the Green Bank Observatory on a yearly basis, the Observatory also hosts several workshops, classes, and camps throughout the year including a recent workshop on Astrobiology that brought in well-known experts in the field of planetary science, astrochemistry, SETI, and cosmology. This summer, approximately 124 students with ages ranging from 4th grade through high school attended camps at the Green Bank Observatory, studying everything from star formation, the molecular cloud, and pulsars. “I am very happy to see the focus remain not only on continuing the excellent science produced by the GBT but also continuing our world-class educational programs” said Director O’Neil.
The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation and is operated by Associated Universities, Inc.
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