Observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed an unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris.
CREDIT: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Iconic Telescopes Threatened by Looming Budget Cuts

Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 08 January 2013 Time: 07:03 PM ET

LONG BEACH, Calif. — With fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings and other financial woes facing the country, several iconic telescopes may lose funding and possibly even close.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) faces several years of stagnating or even shrinking funding, even as the bills for major new telescopes, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama Desert, come due.

As a result, some older telescopes, such as the Very Long Baseline Array and several at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, may not receive funding from NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. While that doesn’t guarantee the telescopes’ closure, it almost certainly means that astronomers won’t be able to sign up for observation time on these majestic sky-watchers, said Daniel Eisenstein, an astronomer at Harvard University and co-author of a report on the NSF’s astronomy budget that recommended defunding the telescopes.

In fact, U.S. science agencies are in limbo after the fiscal deal finalized Jan. 1 delayed a decision on budget cuts for two more months.

Read more: Iconic Telescopes Threatened by Looming Budget Cuts | NSF Funding | Space.

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