Members of Congress recognize the contributions made by radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory
December 1, 2021, Washington, D.C. – One year after the collapse of the 305-meter radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón introduced a bipartisan House Resolution that highlights some of the contributions made by this instrument after nearly 6 decades in operation. The resolution was cosponsored by representatives Steven Palazzo (MS-4), Michael Waltz (FL-06), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Brian Babin (TX-36), María Elvira Salazar (FL-27), and Darren Soto (FL-09).
The iconic telescope played a critical role within the scientific community and for the advancement of STEM education. The resolution acknowledges the loss of this unique world-class tool that was utilized by researchers in the areas of space and atmospheric sciences, radar astronomy and planetary sciences, astronomy, and astrophysics. The resolution also encourages the National Science Foundation, which are the current owners of the facility, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to work with other agencies to study the means to replace the capabilities that were lost after the collapse utilizing new technologies at this site.
“Congress must continue recognizing the significant asset our nation had in this instrument, as we work with relevant federal agencies to move forward, and, most importantly, build on the capabilities we once had with the former telescope. We will not give up on the Observatory and will focus on what lies ahead for Arecibo. I look forward to keep working alongside my colleagues on this important issue”, said congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, who also delivered remarks on the House Floor earlier today.
The collapse of the Arecibo telescope dealt a devastating blow to scientific discovery and planetary defense, to the people of Puerto Rico, and to the University of Central Florida in my district, which manages the site,” said Murphy. “The federal government must act in a swift and thoughtful way to replace the scientific and educational capabilities that were lost due to the collapse.”
“For decades, the pioneering Arecibo Observatory highlighted Puerto Rico’s scientific leadership and diverse contributions to the United States. It made invaluable contributions to our understanding of the universe. We must recognize the Arecibo Observatory’s incredible accomplishments and ensure we are working to replace the capabilities that were lost in the wake of its collapse,” said Salazar.
Today at a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing to review the Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics in the 2020s, Ranking Member Michael Waltz of the Research and Technology Subcommittee highlighted in his opening remarks the radio telescope’s scientific importance, its impact for future generations of scientists, and the need to examine Arecibo’s future role to maintain U.S. leadership in radio astronomy in light of advancements made by foreign actors, like the Chinese Communist Party. Congressman Waltz and Congresswoman González-Colón led a congressional delegation visit to the Arecibo Observatory in July.
“The trip made clear to me that Arecibo is an important compliment to this Committee’s bi-partisan tradition of promoting diversity in STEM, including the “MSI STEM Achievement Act” that the Chairwoman and I ushered through the House this Congress… The US should not rely on the capabilities of malign foreign actors like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to excel in radio astronomy. As such, I look forward to working with the NSF as they continue to examine the future of Arecibo”, said Waltz.
A copy of the resolution can be found here.
- During the morning of December 1st, 2020, after a series of cable failures, the 900-tone platform above the 305- meter radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory sustained an uncontrolled collapse that destroyed the instrument.
- On July 31, 2021, González Colón and Congressman Michael Waltz, Ranking Member of the Research and Technology Subcommittee at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, led a Congressional Delegation visit to the Arecibo Observatory to survey the damaged telescope, asses the state of cleanup efforts, interact with students from the educational programs at the facility, and hear from different experts and the community through a forum.
- González Colón, in collaboration with Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, secured the inclusion of report language in support of the Observatory in H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Public Law 116-260, to direct the National Science Foundation to report to Congress on the extent of the damages made by the collapse, clean up efforts and the process for determining whether to establish comparable technology at the site. This report was published by the agency in March 2021.