We wouldn’t take this as more than a start. The $ 8 million funding is unlikely to come close to rebuilding the telescope. We asked the NSF for comment on the financial commitment, but it’s safe to assume that a recovery would require additional help.
Yet the funds represent an important step. They signal the territory’s commitment to Arecibo and its spatial studies despite the loss. They could also encourage some members of the US government to devote the additional funds necessary to resuscitate the Observatory. Don’t be surprised if 2021 is a brighter year for installation, although any rebuilding effort is likely to take much longer.
Update, 12/31/2020, 3:54 p.m. ET:
In a statement to Engadget, an NSF spokesperson said:
The NSF process for funding and building large-scale infrastructure, including telescopes, is a well-established, multi-year process that involves assessing the needs of the scientific community, receiving inputs from researchers and others. with Congress. As the 305-meter telescope at the Arecibo Observatory only recently collapsed, NSF cannot comment on possible future projects at this time. However, we will continue to work with Congress on this issue, including adhering to language accompanying the new omnibus spending program.
NSF stresses that the observatory is not closing. Research involving archived data from the 305-meter telescope will continue, and the NSF is looking for ways to restore operations with the observatory’s other infrastructure as soon as possible, including the 12-meter telescope and LIDAR facilities. NSF will continue the work of clearing and securing the 305-meter telescope site and looks forward to working with Puerto Rico to find new ways to support the scientific and local community.