Florida Delegation Backs Resolution Honoring the Arecibo Observatory Telescope

Last week, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced a resolution “to recognize the significant scientific, educational and economic contributions made by the Arecibo Observatory telescope” which is being backed by Florida’s two U.S. senators.

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., signed on as co-sponsors. Other backers include U.S. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“The Arecibo telescope, completed in 1963, was the world’s largest single-aperture telescope for more than five decades, and collapsed one year ago this week,” Blumenthal’s office noted.

“The telescope at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory was a scientific marvel, extensively expanding our understanding of the universe,” said Blumenthal. “Its collapse left a significant educational void for our country and the scientific community across the world. I’m proud to recognize its important contributions alongside my colleagues and express our strong support for further studies for how best to replace—and build upon—this telescope’s capabilities at the world-class Arecibo Observatory.”

“For decades, the telescope at the Arecibo Observatory provided us with new atmospheric insights, solar system information, and heightened imagination for the future of scientific discovery,” said Markey. “While its collapse last year left gaping holes in our research, I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal to introduce this resolution to encourage the National Science Foundation to find the best pathway forward in replacing the iconic telescope. We can restore Puerto Rico’s scientific prowess, while also preserving the historic and cultural significance of the Arecibo Observatory.”

The resolution was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee last week.

Over in the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, R-PR, introduced the resolution at the start of this month with six co-sponsors including U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla.

“Congress must continue recognizing the significant asset our nation had in this instrument, as we work with relevant federal agencies to move forward, and, most importantly, build on the capabilities we once had with the former telescope. We will not give up on the Observatory and will focus on what lies ahead for Arecibo. I look forward to keep working alongside my colleagues on this important issue,” said González-Colón who took to the House floor to speak on the matter.

“The collapse of the Arecibo telescope dealt a devastating blow to scientific discovery and planetary defense, to the people of Puerto Rico, and to the University of Central Florida in my district, which manages the site,” said Murphy. “The federal government must act in a swift and thoughtful way to replace the scientific and educational capabilities that were lost due to the collapse.”

Waltz, who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Research and Technology Subcommittee, visited the observatory over the summer and said it remains important to America’s efforts in holding off the Chinese challenge on astronomy and other sciences.

“The trip made clear to me that Arecibo is an important complement to this committee’s bipartisan tradition of promoting diversity in STEM, including the ‘MSI STEM Achievement Act’ that the chairwoman and I ushered through the House this Congress,” Waltz said. “The US should not rely on the capabilities of malign foreign actors like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to excel in radio astronomy. As such, I look forward to working with the NSF as they continue to examine the future of Arecibo.”

The resolution was sent to the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Kevin Derby
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