The National Science Foundation has granted California-based SRI International a $42 million contract to manage the Arecibo Observatory for the next five years starting Oct. 1, it was announced Thursday.
“SRI and its partners bring extensive experience in facility management, space science, radio astronomy and a wide range of high-power radar techniques, as well as expertise in university partnerships and community relations. Together, we will support and, more importantly, expand the observatory’s cutting-edge science programs,” said John Kelly, Ph.D., senior director of the Center for GeoSpace Studies at SRI. “We will use our combined expertise to allow the observatory to become an ever greater resource to the astronomy, planetary science, and space science communities.”
SRI and its on-site partners—the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), the Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)—will work together under the leadership of Robert Kerr, Ph.D., SRI’s director designate of the Arecibo Observatory, to forge a new future for the observatory, which is the world’s largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope.
To advance research and education at the observatory, SRI and its partners are working with multiple local government agencies and private organizations to ensure close collaboration with educational and economic development institutions in Puerto Rico.
“This development is a turning point in the future of the observatory where we will create and expand Puerto Rican and international educational opportunities in ways that were never before possible,” said UMET’s Vice President for Planning and Academic Affairs, Juan Arratia.