Letter from the Director



Dear Arecibo Observatory Community,

Thank you for taking the time to read through our Arecibo Newsletter and to learn about the ongoing projects, new opportunities, and incredible work our staff continues to do. As we navigate the “new” normal with COVID-19, we are proud that the Arecibo Observatory maintains its legacy of strong educational programs and continues to both collect new, exciting science with our active telescopes and other facilities,  and produce new scientific results using the archival data from the 305-meter telescope.

We missed seeing you in person! We are happy that our science staff has been able to once again attend conferences in-person to share their research with the larger community and collaborate on new ideas. We hope you managed to stop by the AO booth if you attended the 240th American Astrophysical Society (AAS) Meeting. If you will be at the upcoming Division for Planetary Science (DPS) conference or the Fall AGU Meeting be sure to visit us at the AO booth there!

Science production at the Arecibo Observatory is full steam ahead: The 12-m telescope and the Callisto Solar Radio Spectrometer regularly pick up space weather events, including a large “independence day” solar flare. See how our data folds into the rest of the e-callisto network here: e-callisto.The 12-m telescope is also actively observing pulsars, spectral lines, and continuum imaging of the Sun. The telescope is about to enter Phase II of the cryogenic frontend upgrade. We also continue to inform the community on the topic of planetary defense by analyzing the archive of radar observations made using the 305-m telescope.

New science instruments are being installed and commissioned: the Puerto Rico Initiative for Studies using Meteor Radar (PRISMA) is undergoing testing and the Culebra Aerosol Research LIDAR (CARLA) is finishing its commissioning stage at the Arecibo Observatory and will soon be installed at the Remote Optical Facility (ROF) in Culebra. We are excited to soon break ground on the AO-UCF collaboration, the Photonic Arecibo Observatory LIDAR Array (PAOLA), that will install an array of seven 20-inch telescopes at Arecibo. Be sure to check out our #AOScienceNow page to stay up-to-date for new and on-going science at the observatory!

Educational and outreach activities are thriving as always: The NSF recently selected our newest educational program: Enhancing and Nurturing Careers in Astronomy with New Training Opportunities (ENCANTO). Stay tuned for future updates and descriptions of the program! We are looking forward to hosting our seventh year of  the STAR program this Fall, which gives Puerto Rican high school students and educators the opportunity to do hands-on science and engineering projects, inspiring a significant number of them to pursue STEM careers in college. In June we welcomed the newest NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) group. Out of the 189 applicants, we selected seven students to work with our scientists and engineers in-person at the Arecibo Observatory.

A big thanks to the AO staff: The University of Central Florida has entered into the final year of its five-year contract with NSF for the management of the Arecibo Observatory. Throughout the many difficulties faced by the staff following the collapse of the telescope, we are so proud of the dedication, hard work, and incredible progress made by the AO staff to recover science operations on site. We maintain our drive for achieving excellence in scientific research and publications, as well as in outstanding public education.

As always, we thank the wonderful Arecibo Observatory community for your support.


Dr. Julie Brisset

Director of the Florida Space Institute