A notice for the planetary science community:
The continued operation of the Arecibo Observatory (AO) is now officially open to question. In the below ‘Dear Colleague Letter’, released this week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) clearly states its desire to defund AO further (we have already been operating under severe budget cuts for the past few years) and ultimately transfer ownership of and responsibility for the observatory to some other organization:
It is important to note that this decision is much more driven by NSF funding squeezes and its commitment to new projects than it is a measure of the scientific performance of Arecibo Observatory — which continues to be excellent. The William E. Gordon 305-m diameter radio telescope remains as the world’s largest and most sensitive single-dish antenna, and as such retains the potential for many more years of exceptional science (especially if upgraded further). The work that we do here is incredibly important, and we now need the help and support of the scientific community in order to continue it.
[Edited for length.]