Saturday, 21 September 2019

Aug 31, 2019: Arecibo Observatory Gets $19 Million Grant to Search for Dangerous Asteroids



The Arecibo Observatory is located in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It is a radio telescope. As of 2018, it is operated by the University of Central Florida, Yang Enterprises and UMET, under cooperative agreement with the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The observatory is the only facility of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC). The radio telescope is 1,000 feet. The observatory is used in 3 major areas of research: radio astronomy, atmospheric science and radar astronomy. There is a visitor center that is open part-time. In 2017, strong winds of Hurricane Maria caused the 430 MHz line feed to break and fall onto the primary dish. This damaged about 30 out of 38,000 aluminum panels. Most Arecibo observations do not use the line feed but instead rely on the feeds and receivers located in the dome.

The Arecibo Observatory received $19 Million NASA grant to help protect earth from dangerous asteroids. The 4-year grant will allow the observatory to search, observe and characterize near-Earth objects that pose a potential hazard. Near Earth Objects are called NEOs. Asteroids that come within 5 million miles of Earth are considered a possible threat by NASA. Even though that is far, gravity could pull those asteroids closer to Earth. Last month, an asteroid surprised people by missing Earth just by 45,000 miles (our moon is 240,000 miles away). This asteroid travelled at 15 miles per second.

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