UCF-Led Consortium Will Manage Arecibo Observatory

posted by Alan McBride - 

A consortium led by the University of Central Florida will start formal transition activities to take on the management of the National Science Foundation’s Observatory. 

That's according to a UCF release, which notes that the National Science Foundation is negotiating the operations and management award with UCF. 

With its partners, Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan and Yang Enterprises in Oviedo, the team says it plans to expand the capabilities of the telescope, which has made significant contributions to science. 

The 18-acre reflector also was featured in the motion picture 'Contact,' based on the lone science-fiction novel published by the late Carl Sagan.

UCF president John Hitt says the university's management of this crucial resource further solidifies the institution as a leader in space-related research.

He adds that the observatory will provide a valuable new dimension to space science at UCF while creating more academic opportunities for students and faculty at UCF, in Puerto Rico and beyond. 

The agreement is valued at $20.15 million, subject to the availability of funds, over five years and is scheduled to begin April 1.

Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who supported UCF’s bid to manage Arecibo and recently helped secure funding in Congress to repair damage to the telescope caused by Hurricane Maria, called the news a "win-win."

He said it was good for, UCF, for Florida, and for Puerto Rico.

The new agreement means the Arecibo Observatory will continue to offer scientists from around the world an opportunity to pursue radio astronomy, atmospheric science and planetary radar research. 

The consortium, calling itself Arecibo Observatory Management Team, also ensures that the observatory will continue to track potentially dangerous near-Earth objects.

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