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Science Ticker

Science Ticker

The Arecibo Observatory will remain open, NSF says

The iconic radio telescope survived Hurricane Maria and dodged deep funding cuts

Arecibo observatory and radio telescope

A WELCOME REPRIEVE  Arecibo staff hold a Puerto Rican flag in front of the observatory’s main dish after Hurricane Maria. The observatory will remain open, the National Science Foundation announced November 16.

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The iconic Arecibo Observatory has survived a hurricane and dodged deep budget cuts. On November 16, the National Science Foundation, which funds the bulk of the observatory’s operating costs, announced that they would continue funding the radio telescope at a reduced level.

It’s not clear yet who will manage the observatory in the long run, or where the rest of the funding will come from. But scientists are celebrating. For example:

Arecibo, a 305-meter-wide radio telescope located about 95 kilometers west of San Juan, is the second largest radio telescope in the world. It has been instrumental in tasks as diverse as monitoring near-Earth asteroids, watching for bright blasts of energy called fast radio bursts and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence.

But the NSF, which covers $8.3 million of the observatory’s nearly $12 million annual budget, has been trying to back away from that responsibility for several years. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, damaging the telescope’s main antenna, the observatory’s future seemed unclear (SN: 9/29/17).

On November 16, the NSF released a statement announcing it would continue science operations at Arecibo “with reduced agency funding,” and would search for new collaborators to cover the rest.

“This plan will allow important research to continue while accommodating the agency's budgetary constraints and its core mission to support cutting-edge science and education,” the statement says.

Animals,, Paleontology

Ancient whale turns up on wrong side of the world

By Laurel Hamers 12:00pm, October 9, 2017
A Southern Hemisphere whale species was briefly a northern resident.
Chemistry,, Technology

Cool way to peer into molecules’ inner workings wins chemistry Nobel Prize

By Laurel Hamers 8:04am, October 4, 2017
Three scientists will split the prize for their work developing cryo-electron microscopy.
Paleontology,, Animals

A baby ichthyosaur’s last meal revealed

By Helen Thompson 2:00am, October 3, 2017
A new look at an old fossil shows that some species of baby ichthyosaurs may have dined on squid.
Physiology,, Biomedicine

Body clock mechanics wins U.S. trio the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:41am, October 2, 2017
The cellular mechanisms governing circadian rhythms was a Nobel Prize‒winning discover for three Americans.

Bedbugs may be into dirty laundry

By Helen Thompson 9:00am, September 28, 2017
When humans aren’t around, bedbugs go for the next best thing: smelly human laundry.

Saber-toothed kittens were born armed to pounce

By Carolyn Gramling 2:00pm, September 27, 2017
Even as babies, saber-toothed cats had not only oversized canine teeth but also unusually powerful forelimbs.
Paleontology,, Animals

This giant marsupial was a seasonal migrant

By Laurel Hamers 7:05pm, September 26, 2017
The giant, extinct marsupial Diprotodon optatum migrated seasonally, the first marsupial shown to do so.

About 1 in 5 teens has had a concussion

By Aimee Cunningham 11:00am, September 26, 2017
Almost 20 percent of U.S. teens have had at least one diagnosed concussion in the past, an analysis of a 2016 national survey finds.

Plate tectonics started at least 3.5 billion years ago

By Carolyn Gramling 3:12pm, September 21, 2017
Analyses of titanium in rock suggest plate tectonics began 500 million years earlier than thought.

Old barn owls aren’t hard of hearing

By Helen Thompson 7:05pm, September 19, 2017
A new study suggests that older barn owls hear just as well as younger ones.
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