The Arecibo Observatory - An Introduction
Private universities such as the renowned Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA in collaboration with the National Science Foundation jointly operates the Arecibo observatory. It is a subsidiary of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere center, which also comes under the administration of the same university. I am certain that many readers will be already aware of the duties of the National Science Foundation - a federally governed venture that aims to establish various breakthrough discoveries in the niche of science and engineering! The NASA too aids in the research work conducted at this observatory.
In the following sections, I will be outlining certain interesting aspects about this observatory. While some similar research centers work on predefined hours in a day, the Arecibo observatory operates throughout the year - 24x7. Data collected from various sources (domestic and international) is assimilated at the observatory. Thanks to the advances in the internet and other forms of electronic media, the researchers in Arecibo observatory can collaborate in real time with their counterparts located across diverse continents. Students who have an uncanny interest in learning about the activities of the observatory can very well learn them by checking out the research results posted occasionally in the official website.
Astronomy is the primary niche of research that takes places within the confines of the Arecibo observatory. In order to facilitate the research work, the observatory houses the largest single-dish radio telescope. This instrument will help the researchers in learning in depth about the planetary structures present in the outer space. An independent panel of experts will access the requests from scientists across the globe - to access the observatory and the resources it has to offer. If this panel feels that a particular research is plausible, they will invite the scientists to utilize the assets to the fullest.
It is possible to study the variations that take place in the ionosphere using the instruments located at the Arecibo observatory. Blame it on the advantageous position occupied by the same observatory. Although erected to study the planetary movements in detail, the focus shifted on the terrestrial changes that occur in the ionosphere, thanks to the advanced light detection and ranging devices. Many meteorological services located in the United States make use of the data collected by the radio telescopes present at this observatory. It will be interesting to know that the same facility was under the control of the Department of Defense for some time and by 1969, it was offered to the National Science Foundation.
At any time, there are approximately 140 people located at the Arecibo observatory. These include eminent scientific researchers and other renowned figures in the domain. The scientific team works on a time-sharing basis - this will provide an opportunity to all to use the resources available at the observatory. Throughout the years, the observatory has not faced any kind of downtimes thanks to the efforts of the maintenance engineers, not to ignore the telescope operators who are available around the clock.