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Paying Tribute to Arecibo Observatory, a Legacy Beyond Science

Presentation #506.09 in the session Asteroids: Near-Earth Objects (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Paying Tribute to Arecibo Observatory, a Legacy Beyond Science

The Arecibo Observatory stands as an iconic symbol of scientific exploration and discovery, leaving an indelible mark on the field of planetary science. Throughout its history, the observatory made significant contributions to our understanding of celestial bodies within and outside of our solar system, revolutionizing our knowledge through its multidisciplinary approach. Arecibo’s lunar studies marked a significant milestone, with its first radar observations of the Moon in 1964. These observations provided valuable insights into the lunar surface, during a time where the Moon was the hottest object in town [1].

The observatory’s radar investigations extended beyond the Moon. By studying Mercury and Venus [2], the observatory unveiled the true rotation period of Mercury and produced the first topographic map of Venus. Planetary satellites such as Phobos [3], Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Saturn’s rings, and Titan were studied [4]. Moreover, Arecibo’s radar system was instrumental in studying Main Belt Asteroids [5] and Comets [6], unlocking information about their sizes, shapes, and rotations, and nuclei; contributing to our knowledge of the early solar system’s formation and evolution. Arecibo’s contribution to the study of near-Earth objects (NEOs) was exceptional. Through follow-up observations, the observatory tracked and characterized hundreds of NEOs providing precise measurements of object’s distance and velocities enabling accurate predictions of potential close approaches or impacts.

But who are the people that made Arecibo? Who were the pioneers that set the foundation for this facility? We want to honor and recognize the people, the observers, the technicians, engineers, and staff; the dedicated individuals who made it a center of excellence. The legacy of the Arecibo Observatory will forever be etched in the annals of scientific achievement, because of its people.

[1] Thompson, (2016) URSI Radio Science Bulletin, 2016(357), 23-35. [2] Muhleman, (1966) Space Science Reviews, 6, 341-364. [3] Busch, (2007) Icarus 186.2: 581-584. [4] Brozović, (2020) The Astronomical Journal 159.4: 149. [5] Magri, (2007) Icarus 186 :126-151. [6] Harmon, (1999) Planetary and Space Science 47.12:1409-1422.

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