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NSF issues Record of Decision on GBO

Green Bank Telescope

Continued operations for science and education

Green Bank Observatory Director Karen O’Neil announced Tuesday 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.”

“AUI is extremely plea-sed to see a positive resolution of the divestiture recommendation,” said Adam Cohen, President of Associated Universities, Inc., which operates the Observatory. “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 GBO 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 Nano Hertz 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.”

“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,” O’Neil said.

In addition to the solid scientific research and results produced by the GBO 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, ranging in age from fourth grade through high school, attended camps at the GBO, studying everything from star formation and the molecular cloud to 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,” O’Neil said.

The GBO is a facility of the National Science Foundation and is operated by Associated Universities, Inc.

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