This project is to restore the Arecibo Observatory (AO) to full operating status after the damage it incurred from Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The Arecibo Observatory uniquely contributes to a wide variety of sciences including astronomy, planetary science, ionospheric physics, and the study and prediction of space weather. Its powerful antenna has capabilities for particular measurements unmatched anywhere in the world. The Arecibo Observatory is a leading education and public outreach center. It is a beacon of science education in Puerto Rico, attracting tens of thousands of school children and tourists annually. This award will enable Arecibo to restore its full complement of science capabilities and education and public outreach efforts.
This award to the University of Central Florida (UCF) in cooperation with Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) is for repairs comprising fourteen distinct projects, prioritized by criticality for both structural integrity and the importance to scientific observations. These projects include: the replacement of a compromised steel suspension cable that is one of three cables supporting the approximately 900-ton steel platform suspended more than 400 feet above the 305-meter primary reflector surface, which houses the receivers and other associated equipment; calibration of the primary reflector surface panels; alignment of the Gregorian reflector; replacement of the damaged 430 MHz line feed; restoration to full functionality of the telescope pointing control and data taking systems; along with several other smaller projects. These systems are critical to ensuring that the Arecibo Observatory has been restored to world-class operating status with resilient systems in case of another hurricane by capitalizing on modern technologies to optimize scientific performance.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.