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Proposals Invited for Management & Operation of Arecibo Observatory

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 10:50

Via program solicitation NSF 17-538, proposals are solicited by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to manage and operate the Arecibo Observatory (AO). The AO is a multidisciplinary research and education facility. AO’s cornerstone research instrument is a 305-meter diameter fixed spherical reflector, located on approximately 120 acres of US Federal Government-owned land near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. AO conducts research in passive radio astronomy, solar system radar astronomy, and space and atmospheric sciences.

In cooperation with NSF and within available resources, the proposer will plan and execute a viable program of research and/or education, consistent with the objectives and priorities of the scientific community. The recipient will manage the facilities and equipment provided by NSF, and will provide support and technical personnel to manage AO as a well-integrated research and/or education facility. A significant portion of the AO program should be carried out in collaboration with its stakeholder communities, and other collaborators.

NSF anticipates greatly reduced and decreasing funding over the life of this effort, to a total of $2M per year by the end of the five-year project period (and pending availability of funds). In consideration of these reductions, operations and activities cannot be sustained at current levels without external sources of funding. A viable proposal must demonstrate a feasible and reasonable approach to managing and operating AO, and, if applicable, to obtaining and sustaining a significant share of the AO’s operational costs.

NSF is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate proposed operational changes at AO due to funding constraints, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In the Draft EIS released in October 2016, NSF evaluated the anticipated environmental impacts stemming from implementation of several proposed alternatives, including the Agency Preferred Alternative: Collaboration with interested parties for continued science-focused operations at AO. The current solicitation supports this Preferred Alternative.

Proposals are due 25 April 2017 by 5:00 pm submitter’s local time.

The successful proposal would be awarded as a Cooperative Agreement or Master Cooperative Agreement with Cooperative Support Agreement(s) on or after 1 April 2018 with an anticipated duration of five years, and possibly renewable upon a successful review for an additional five years

Ralph A. Gaume
(acting) Division Director
National Science Foundation
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