Arecibo Observatory Celebrates 50th Anniversary | SRI International

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Arecibo Observatory Celebrates 50th Anniversary

areciboArecibo, Puerto Rico, – February 12, 2013 – Dr. José F. Méndez, President of the Ana G. Méndez University System (AGMUS), Dr. Carlos M. Padín, chancellor of Metropolitan University (UMET), Dr. John Kelly, director of SRI International's Center for Geospace Studies, and Dr. Donald Kniffen, Chief Operating Officer, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), today presented a calendar of special events to be held throughout the year in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Arecibo Observatory.
Events will be held throughout 2013 to highlight 50 years of contributions from the world's largest radio telescope.

  • Until May, the Observatory's Ángel Ramos Foundation Visitors Center will exhibit the lunar rock found by astronaut Jack Schmitt of the Apollo 17 crew during its last trip to the moon in 1972.

  • In alliance with the Caribbean Astronomy Society (CAS), a star gazing evening will be held on February 16 starting at 6:30 pm. Personnel from the CAS will be available to answer questions, and optic telescopes will be on the terrace of the Visitors Center for observing celestial bodies such as Jupiter and its moons.

  • In October, the Observatory will host a scientific symposium, “The Arecibo Observatory at 50: Achievements, Rebirths, and Leadership in Astronomy, Planetary Science, and Space and Atmospheric Science.” The conference will be organized into six themes: three pertaining to radio astronomy, one related to planetary astronomy, and two in atmospheric physics. Each theme will feature a keynote from a distinguished investigator, who will discuss the role of the Observatory in recent advances and future developments. Hundreds of scientists from around the world are expected to attend to reflect upon the Observatory's achievements, outline a vision for its future, strengthen national and international collaborations, and evaluate challenges faced by the Observatory as it strives to remain a world-leading astrophysical and atmospheric research center.

AGMUS President Mendez said, “One of my favorite projects of the Observatory's development plan is the $1.5 million physical improvement of the Ángel Ramos Foundation Visitors Center.” The Ángel Ramos Foundation has donated $750,000 that will be used for a $500,000 redesign of the Visitors Center and to bring diverse exhibitions from around the world for visitors to enjoy.

Educational activities in 2013 include initiatives involving the universities in Puerto Rico.

  • Students will have opportunities to conduct field research at the Arecibo Observatory.

  • Students from Interamerican University, in coordination with mentoring faculty, are designing an improved dashboard for controlling and monitoring the helium compressor used to chill the receptor in the Gregorian dome.

  • Polytechnic University is designing a mechanical/hydraulic artifact to raise the Observatory's telescope antenna and replace its deteriorated wheels.

  • Students from UMET are working at a photonics institute and redesigning and re-engineering the Observatory website.  They are developing a system for buying entry tickets online and designing a mobile application related to the radio telescope.

  • Construction of a planetarium.

  • A doctoral program in astronomy and space sciences in collaboration with the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones de España (CSIC, or Higher Council of Investigations of Spain).

  • Development of a faculty research program for 10 universities in Puerto Rico.

  • A summer research program for Puerto Rican students enrolled at universities in the continental United States.

“Metropolitan University is committed to strengthening and developing the Observatory as a center for academic and scientific learning. The research center will promote knowledge-based economic development and will include scientists and universities from Puerto Rico and from around the world,” stated UMET's Chancellor Padin.
Dr. Robert Kerr, the Observatory's director and a principal scientist at SRI International, said, “The 50th year of the Arecibo Observatory brings great pride for its accomplishments and great promise for its future. Standing on the shoulders of the Observatory's founders, driven by a very dedicated staff, and in partnership with the people of Puerto Rico, the Observatory will continue to amaze the world with discoveries for generations to come.”

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