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Published May 24, 2021 | Submitted
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The Future Of The Arecibo Observatory: The Next Generation Arecibo Telescope


The Arecibo Observatory (AO) is a multidisciplinary research and education facility that is recognized worldwide as a leading facility in astronomy, planetary, and atmospheric and space sciences. AO's cornerstone research instrument was the 305-m William E. Gordon telescope. On December 1, 2020, the 305-m telescope collapsed and was irreparably damaged. In the three weeks following the collapse, AO's scientific and engineering staff and the AO users community initiated extensive discussions on the future of the observatory. The community is in overwhelming agreement that there is a need to build an enhanced, next-generation radar-radio telescope at the AO site. From these discussions, we established the set of science requirements the new facility should enable. These requirements can be summarized briefly as: 5 MW of continuous wave transmitter power at 2 - 6 GHz, 10 MW of peak transmitter power at 430 MHz (also at 220MHz under consideration), zenith angle coverage 0 to 48 deg, frequency coverage 0.2 to 30 GHz and increased Field-of-View. These requirements determine the unique specifications of the proposed new instrument. The telescope design concept we suggest consists of a compact array of fixed dishes on a tiltable, plate-like structure with a collecting area equivalent to a 300m dish. This concept, referred to as the Next Generation Arecibo Telescope (NGAT), meets all of the desired specifications and provides significant new science capabilities to all three research groups at AO. This whitepaper presents a sample of the wide variety of the science that can be achieved with the NGAT, the details of the telescope design concept and the need for the new telescope to be located at the AO site. We also discuss other AO science activities that interlock with the NGAT in the white paper.

Additional Information

We are grateful to the Arecibo Observatory users' community for the invaluable support, comments, and discussion that helped us to write this white paper with a short notice. Special thanks to Joanna Rankin from University of Vermont, who led the organization of the AO's user community and Pia Salter for her enthusiastic support to the effort for Arecibo telescope reconstruction. We thank the technical staff of the AO, as well as Dr. Shaffer and the UNC-URSI community for their suggestions and inputs while preparing the white paper. We also greatly appreciate valuable input from Gordon Lacy, Mohammad Islam, and Dean Chalmers at NRC Canada; Peter Dewdney from SKA; Larry D'Addario from Caltech; Anthony van Eyken from SRI International; Alex Kraus from MPIFR, Bonn; Chip Cohen from Fractal Antenna Systems; Tim Bastian from NRAO, Timothy Kennedy from the NASA Johnson Space Center and Catherine Neish from Western University. A huge thanks to B. Serna, SwRI, Texas, for helping with the formatting of the whitepaper.

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Submitted - 2103.01367.pdf


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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023