NSF says: Out with the old telescopes, in with the new

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Science  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 693-694
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6313.693

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The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is carrying out an unprecedented yard sale of some older telescopes so that it can save $40 million annually and operate a new generation of observatories. It has already arranged to offload or share costs for five telescopes, saving $12 million a year. But not enough bargain hunters have yet stepped forward to secure a future for two of the agency's most iconic telescopes, the giant radio dishes in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and Green Bank, West Virginia. On 28 October, NSF released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Arecibo, a first step in assessing the implications of offloading or even closing the telescope, one that signals the agency's seriousness in shedding it. NSF has just begun an EIS for Green Bank, where a few partners have stepped up with outside funding. Even though the funds are not enough to compensate for waning NSF support, the partnerships point to a model for the agency's endangered telescopes.