National Science Foundation’s November 9th Public Scoping Meeting, Second Session
On November 9th, 2016, the National Science Foundation (or NSF) held two scoping meetings to solicit public comment on its environmental impact study which will determine the future of the Green Bank Observatory.
Mr. Edward Ajar, an Astronomer with the National Science Foundation opened the meeting. He said that in 2010 a study was initiated to determine which existing ground based observatories were expendable. The Green Bank Observatory was determined to be expendable when that study was completed in 2012. Ajar quotes from the study conclusions as related to the Green Bank Observatory.
“’The GBT is the words most sensitive single dish radio telescope at wave lengths less than 10 centimeters’” quoted Ajar from the study. “’However, its capabilities are not as critical to the decadal science goals as the higher ranked facilities.”
This environmental study will be conducted to recommend one of the 5 options we have all heard about:
- Continuing funding at current levels.
- Collaboration with interested parties for science and education focused operations with reduced NSF funding.
- Collaboration with interested parties for operation as a technology and education park
- Mothballing the facility.
- Deconstruction and site restoration.
The floor was opened for public comment. There were about 35 comments, some lengthy, so we will only be able to play short portions of a few of these comments.
Catherine Williams, a Professor at WVU
“The 20 Meter is an important telescope” said Williams. “Everyone talks about the GBT-it’s amazing- the 40 foot telescope is an amazing opportunity, but the 20 meter telescope is connected to the Internet. So the possibilities are endless for education. You don’t have to come here. It doesn’t cost much money at all to bring that kind of quality science to our students.”
Pete Gentile (jen-tee-lee) , a Grad Student at WVU
“We are so lucky to be here –right here in West Virginia” said Gentile. “Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to say those exact words to Middle School and High School classrooms, to current and prospective West Virginia University students, and to amateur Astronomers at their club meetings across the State. And then I get to tell them why. Because their state, their home is home to the largest fully steerable telescope”
Paul Brook, Post Doctorial Researcher at WVU