Gloomy News for Arecibo

NSF Dear Colleague on the Senior Review: Arecibo, AAS

"Nonetheless, in order to plan responsibly, and weigh the various options, we have to understand the cost of closure to be weighed against other options. As recommended by the Senior Review, NSF is also engaging an engineering firm to carry out a study of the cost of decommissioning the observatory facility. The study will explore a variety of possible endpoints, ranging from complete deconstruction and restoration of the site to its natural state to securely 'mothballing' the facility. The results of this study will be available in December 2007 and will serve as critical input to our planning for the long-term future of the observatory. This is part of responsible lifecycle costing, and should not be regarded as indicating that any final decisions have been made."

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Meeting

"October 11-12, 2007 .. Contact Person: Dr. G. Wayne Van Citters, Director, Division of Astronomical Sciences .... Purpose of Meeting: To provide advice and recommendations to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on issues within the field of astronomy and astrophysics that are of mutual interest and concern to the agencies."

Reader note: I sent the following message today, shortly after receiving the AAS message: "Wayne Van Citters -- In your letter to the community, you spent more words (a whole paragraph) discussing the planetary radar capability of Arecibo than in the entire Senior Review (not even one sentence).

It is patently clear that the Senior Review did not even seriously evaluate this jewel in the crown of American astronomy. And the participants in that review process were not knowledgeable about active (as distinct from passive) astronomy. Your statement that NASA "terminated" planetary radar falsely implies that NASA found planetary radar to be unworthy of funding, rather than that the NSF undertook responsibility as part of a complex interagency agreement.

Your continued failure to fairly evaluate this unique facility is doing an awful disservice to science. I hope that you will reconsider and invoke a multi-agency, interdisciplinary review to reconsider this matter that was simply ignored in the Senior Review.- Clark Chapman, Senior Scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder CO"

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on September 26, 2007 5:43 PM.

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