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Arecibo Observatory Gets $5.8 Million Grant To Upgrade Telescope

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Photo: Creative Commons / WikiMedia
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Photo: Creative Commons / WikiMedia

Scientists who run the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are getting a multi million dollar grant to improve the massive radio telescope.

The $5.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation will pay for the design and installation of a super-sensitive antenna for the 1,000 ft. diameter dish.

Francisco Cordova, site director and engineer at Arecibo, said the grant will help ensure the observatory remains a leader in radio astronomy.

“You know the beauty about each one of these receivers is that they’re unique, right, they’re uniquely built for the observatory" said Cordova.

 He said the the Advanced Cryogenic L-Band Phased Array Camera, or ALPACA, "will be particularly important for us to maintain our leadership in radio astronomy around the world.”

The main function of the receiver is to look for pulsars, fast radio bursts and gravitational waves.

And that’s not all.

“Another part of our capabilities is to also search for any signal that might be different or unknown, while we do the science tasks," said Cordova.

"And that is how we support the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.”

The antenna is scheduled for installation by 2022.

The team working on this project is led by engineering professors from Brigham Young University with collaboration from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

UCF manages the Arecibo Observatory. The telescope was featured in the movie “Contact” and the Bond movie “Goldeneye.”