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Science News Staff

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.

Physics,, Astronomy

Colliding black holes are reported for a fifth time

By Emily Conover 11:40am, November 16, 2017
LIGO spots another merger, this time with less fanfare.
Astronomy

New camera on Palomar telescope will seek out supernovas, asteroids and more

By Lisa Grossman 12:00pm, November 14, 2017
The Zwicky Transient Facility at Palomar Observatory in California will seek supernovas, black holes and asteroids.
Quantum Physics,, Computing

Quantum computers take a step forward with a 50-qubit prototype

By Emily Conover 9:00am, November 10, 2017
Race to build ever-more-powerful processors edges the technology closer to being able to best traditional machines.
Animals,, Agriculture,, Science & Society

EPA OKs first living pest-control mosquito for use in United States

By Susan Milius 6:58pm, November 8, 2017
Feds approve non-GM male tiger mosquitoes for sale as fake dads to suppress local pests.
Astronomy,, Planetary Science

NASA wants your help naming New Horizons’ next destination

By Mike Denison 2:00pm, November 7, 2017
NASA’s New Horizons mission team is asking the public to vote on a nickname for the spacecraft’s next destination.
Paleontology,, Evolution,, Ecology

What male bias in the mammoth fossil record says about the animal’s social groups

By Carolyn Gramling 12:15pm, November 2, 2017
Male woolly mammoths were more often caught in natural traps that preserved their remains, DNA evidence suggests.
Materials,, Technology

Nobel Prize–winning technique illuminates the fibers that set off battery fires

By Maria Temming 2:00pm, October 26, 2017
Scientists get a closer look at the filaments that ruin lithium-ion batteries from the inside out.
Astronomy,, Planetary Science

Dawn spacecraft will keep orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres indefinitely

By Lisa Grossman 3:15pm, October 20, 2017
NASA just gave the Dawn spacecraft a second mission extension to orbit Ceres indefinitely.
Astronomy

Measured distance within the Milky Way gives clues to what our galaxy looks like

By Lisa Grossman 2:45pm, October 12, 2017
Astronomers used an old but challenging technique to directly measure the distance to a star on the opposite side of the galaxy for the first time.
Animals,, Oceans,, Conservation

New deep-sea sponge could play a starring role in monitoring ocean health

By Carolyn Gramling 7:00am, October 10, 2017
A new species of sponge that dwells on metal-rich rocks could help scientists track the environmental impact of deep-sea mining.
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