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Towards a New Arecibo Radar and Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Presentation #124.02 in the session High-Energy Solar Investigations Through Next-Generation Remote Sensing: Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Beyond — Poster Session.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Towards a New Arecibo Radar and Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Since beginning observations in August 1963, the Arecibo Observatory has been at the forefront of research in atmospheric and geospace science, planetary science, and astronomy. The collapse of the observatory’s 900-ton instrument platform on December 1, 2020, resulted in the loss of the world’s most sensitive atmospheric and planetary radar systems, as well as the loss of the only mid-latitude high-power high-frequency ionospheric research transmitter, and of all of the associated radio astronomy receivers.

Work is now underway on projects and proposals for building new radar and radio systems in Puerto Rico: an extensive white paper advocating the construction of new radar and radio systems was published in February 2021; the U.S. National Science Foundation held a workshop during June 2021 on future options for Arecibo Observatory; plans are underway to restore the HF transmitting capabilities of the Observatory; proposals have been submitted and are being developed for new high-frequency (HF), very-high-frequency (VHF), and ultra-high-frequency (UHF) radars and new radio astronomy instruments; and a proposal for a remote observing site with a new HF radio imaging array and other atmospheric instruments is being submitted.

The Arecibo atmospheric and planetary radars were UHF systems, operating at 430 and 2380 MHz, respectively. Both radars were used for both atmospheric and planetary science. A new, modern system could have transmitters for VHF, UHF, and perhaps higher-frequency radars, with receivers located both at the current Observatory site, where they would be protected from radio interference, and elsewhere in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The inclusion of a multistatic low-band VHF radar in a restored Arecibo Observatory would be groundbreaking for research in the neutral atmosphere and the ionosphere, in meteor physics and meteoroid astronomy, for studies of the moon, and for radar observations of the sun.

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