SETI public: FW: Cornell Chronicle: Crusade to save planetary radar at Arecibo

From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Wed Jun 27 2007 - 13:15:39 PDT

  • Next message: LARRY KLAES: "SETI public: Telescope limitation could reveal exoplanets"

    >From: Cornell Chronicle Online <cunews_at_cornell.edu>
    >Reply-To: Cornell Chronicle Online <cunews_at_cornell.edu>
    >To: CUNEWS-PHYSICAL_SCIENCE-L_at_cornell.edu (CUNEWS-PHYSICAL_SCIENCE-L),
    >CUNEWS-CAMPUS-L_at_cornell.edu (CUNEWS-CAMPUS-L), CUNEWS-SCIENCE-L_at_cornell.edu
    >(CUNEWS-SCIENCE-L)
    >Subject: Cornell Chronicle: Crusade to save planetary radar at Arecibo
    >Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2007 16:10:08 -0400
    >
    >Chronicle Online e-News
    >
    >Cornell and NAIC search for funding to keep Arecibo's radar alive
    >http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June07/radar.closure.MR.html
    >
    >June 27, 2007
    >
    >By Melissa Rice
    >cunews_at_cornell.edu
    >
    > The planetary radar system at the Arecibo Observatory, which Cornell
    >manages for the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its National
    >Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), is the most powerful in the world
    >and is considered the best tool for tracking asteroids that may be on a
    >collision course with the Earth.
    >
    >But since the Arecibo radar system may lose all its funding from NSF as
    >soon as next year, Cornell astronomer Joseph Burns quips, "Let's hope that
    >we find all the dangerous asteroids in the next few months."
    >
    >Last November, the Senior Review, an advisory committee to the NSF Division
    >of Astronomical Sciences, recommended that Arecibo's total funding from
    >that division be scaled back by 25 percent over the next three years. These
    >cuts only allow operation of the planetary radar to continue into 2008; if
    >the NAIC cannot find outside partners to cover half of the observatory's
    >total operating costs by 2011, the telescope risks being shut down
    >entirely.
    >
    >Many planetary scientists say that the Senior Review's recommendations
    >completely overlooked the radar system. No planetary scientists sat on the
    >committee, and only one reference was made to radar in the 78-page report
    >(and no mention of asteroids). The chair of the American Astronomical
    >Society's Division for Planetary Sciences and numerous other astronomers
    >have urged NSF to reconsider the funding cuts, with radar in mind.
    >
    >"Asteroid impacts are the only known natural disaster that can cause
    >ecological disaster and mass extinction. They can be prevented, though, and
    >it is simply irresponsible to neglect a unique warning and mitigation
    >device like the Arecibo radar," said Jean-Luc Margot, Cornell assistant
    >professor of astronomy.
    >
    >The radar system also has led to important recent discoveries in planetary
    >science, including the detection of ice at Mercury's poles and the
    >discovery of binary asteroids. In the past year, Cornell astronomers and
    >colleagues have published three articles in the prestigious journals
    >Science and Nature based on Arecibo radar experiments, reporting the
    >discovery of Mercury's molten core, a lack of evidence for ice reserves on
    >the moon and on the detection of the YORP Effect.
    >
    >Although the radar system is not expensive -- its operating costs are
    >roughly $1 million a year -- it is not clear who should pick up the tab.
    >The NSF and NASA have both supported the radar in the past, but neither
    >agency feels responsible for saving the radar now.
    >
    >The NSF feels that solar system science is not one of its high priorities,
    >and should be NASA's responsibility, said Don Campbell, Cornell professor
    >of astronomy and former associate director of the NAIC. But NASA focuses on
    >space programs, not ground-based observatories. "Plus, they feel that it's
    >not their responsibility to pick up programs previously funded by the NSF,"
    >he said.
    >
    >Robert Brown, director of the NAIC; Burns, Cornell vice provost of physical
    >sciences and engineering; and Campbell recently met with NASA, NSF, the
    >National Research Council and congressional staff to stress the importance
    >of the Arecibo radar. Brown, Burns and Arecibo Observatory staff members
    >are attending a town meeting in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, this week "to seek
    >new partnerships to help fund and expand the observatory's role [in Puerto
    >Rico]," said Burns.
    >
    >If neither agency agrees to foot the bill, the Arecibo radar will start
    >operating with reduced hours in October 2007, and will likely be
    >inactivated after September 30, 2008.
    >
    >"It would be a tremendous loss if the Arecibo radar gets shut down," said
    >Campbell. "Then we'd only have the Goldstone radar system in California,
    >which is 20 times less sensitive, and is used mainly for spacecraft
    >telemetry. Many solar system studies would be seriously affected."
    >
    >
    >
    >Graduate student Melissa Rice is a writer intern with the Cornell
    >Chronicle.
    >
    >
    >
    >##
    >
    >
    >--
    >
    >
    >Chronicle Online
    >312 College Ave.
    >Ithaca, NY 14850
    >607.255.4206
    >cunews_at_cornell.edu
    >http://www.news.cornell.edu
    >


  • Next message: LARRY KLAES: "SETI public: Telescope limitation could reveal exoplanets"

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.6 : Wed Jun 27 2007 - 13:19:57 PDT