Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) will manage the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2024. The GBO enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering access to telescopes, facilities, and advanced instrumentation to the global scientific and research community. GBO also provides research and educational opportunities through a variety of radio telescopes and facilities on site. AUI will play a crucial role in ensuring that GBO maintains its strategic relevance as a vital asset to the U.S. scientific community while effectively managing partnerships that support an increasing share of observatory operations.
Driven by the priorities of the U.S. research community and aided by a number of new instruments and infrastructure upgrades, GBO will make major advances across many fields of astronomy and physics. The major research instrument at GBO is the 100-meter diameter Green Bank Telescope (GBT)—the world’s largest fully steerable single-dish radio telescope. The GBT’s large sky coverage, very high sensitivity, and extensive suite of instruments make it a powerful and versatile telescope which enables advances in virtually all areas of modern astrophysics, including: Solar System and planetary astronomy; star formation and evolution; interstellar physics and chemistry; pulsar studies of long-wavelength gravitational waves; physics of black holes and neutron stars; and galaxy formation and evolution. The GBT offers excellent complementarity and synergy with interferometric arrays, such as the Very Large Array, the Very Long Baseline Array, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array by providing the larger context for follow-up studies requiring the high angular resolution of these facilities. It also plays a critical supporting role as a highly sensitive element of very long baseline interferometry, as well as a bistatic radar receiver for rapid and sensitive imaging of near-Earth objects and asteroids.
GBO is used by hundreds of scientists each year, and it is available to all scientists based on the intellectual merit of the proposed studies, independent of institutional or national affiliation. GBO will enable and maintain easy access to its telescopes and their data by the entire astronomical community. Science ready data products will be made available in archives accessible to both the broad research community and the public. Astronomy is an important element in meeting national goals related to diversity, science and technology education, and increased U.S. competitiveness. GBO conducts an exemplary program of education and public outreach. The Green Bank Science Center attracts nearly 50,000 visitors each year, and the various telescopes on site provide invaluable training opportunities for students, as well as science enrichment for a very wide demographic. The program effectively leverages GBO resources to enhance science literacy in the general public.
This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.