Science and Exploration

The Future Of The Arecibo Observatory: The Next Generation Arecibo Telescope

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 2, 2021
Filed under ,
The Future Of The Arecibo Observatory: The Next Generation Arecibo Telescope
An array of 1,112 dishes of 9 m in diameter within a ~314 m diameter circle is shown on the left. The number of dishes could be reduced by increasing the dish diameter, as shown in the right figure where an array of 400 dishes of 15 m diameter within a 331 m diameter circle. In both cases, the array will provide an equivalent collecting area of a 300 m diameter dish. It is evident that the packing efficiency is not optimum when the diameter of the dish is increased. Dishes with hexagonal shape could be considered during the engineering study to investigate whether higher collecting area can be achieved with less number of dishes.

The Arecibo Observatory (AO) is a multidisciplinary research and education facility that is recognized worldwide as a leading facility in astronomy, planetary, and atmospheric and space sciences.

AO’s cornerstone research instrument was the 305-m William E. Gordon telescope. On December 1, 2020, the 305-m telescope collapsed and was irreparably damaged. In the three weeks following the collapse, AO’s scientific and engineering staff and the AO users community initiated extensive discussions on the future of the observatory.

The community is in overwhelming agreement that there is a need to build an enhanced, next-generation radar-radio telescope at the AO site. From these discussions, we established the set of science requirements the new facility should enable. These requirements can be summarized briefly as: 5 MW of continuous wave transmitter power at 2 – 6 GHz, 10 MW of peak transmitter power at 430 MHz (also at 220MHz under consideration), zenith angle coverage 0 to 48 deg, frequency coverage 0.2 to 30 GHz and increased FoV. T

hese requirements determine the unique specifications of the proposed new instrument. The telescope design concept we suggest consists of a compact array of fixed dishes on a tiltable, plate-like structure with a collecting area equivalent to a 300m dish. This concept, referred to as the Next Generation Arecibo Telescope (NGAT), meets all of the desired specifications and provides significant new science capabilities to all three research groups at AO.

This whitepaper presents a sample of the wide variety of the science that can be achieved with the NGAT, the details of the telescope design concept and the need for the new telescope to be located at the AO site. We also discuss other AO science activities that interlock with the NGAT in the white paper.

D. Anish Roshi, N. Aponte, E. Araya, H. Arce, L. A. Baker, W. Baan, T. M. Becker, J. K. Breakall, R. G. Brown, C. G. M. Brum, M. Busch, D. B. Campbell, T. Cohen, F. Cordova, J. S. Deneva, M. Devogele, T. Dolch, F. O. Fernandez-Rodriguez, T. Ghosh, P. F. Goldsmith, L. Gurvits, M. Haynes, C. Heiles, D. Hickson, B. Isham, R. B. Kerr, J. Kelly, J. J. Kiriazes, S. Kumar, J. Lautenbach, M. Lebron, N. Lewandowska, L. Magnani, P. K. Manoharan, S. E. Marshall, A. K. McGilvray, A. Mendez, R. Minchin, V. Negron, M. C. Nolan, L. Olmi, F. Paganelli, N. T. Palliyaguru, C. A. Pantoja, Z. Paragi, S. C. Parshley, J. E. G. Peek, B. B. P. Perera, P. Perillat, N. Pinilla-Alonso, L. Quintero, H. Radovan, S. Raizada, T. Robishaw, M. Route, C. J. Salter, A. Santoni, P. Santos, S. Sau, D. Selvaraj, A. J. Smith, M. Sulzer, S. Vaddi, F. Vargas, F. C. F. Venditti, A. Venkataraman, A. K. Virkki, A. Vishwas, S. Weinreb, D. Werthimer, A. Wolszczan, L. F. Zambrano-Marin

Comments: 82 pages (executive summary 10 pages), 21 figures, Arecibo observatory white paper
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (; Instrumentation and Detectors (physics.ins-det)
Cite as: arXiv:2103.01367 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2103.01367v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: D. Anish Roshi
[v1] Tue, 2 Mar 2021 00:04:14 UTC (6,883 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.