Private funding comes through for Green Bank

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Back in February, we wrote an editorial chastising the National Science Foundation — a federal agency — for threatening to remove support for the Robert C. Byrd telescope at Green Bank by 2017.

The feds provide as much as $10 million a year to keep the operation going at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. But they apparently don’t feel the cost is worth it despite the recent accomplishments by scientists using the big dish.

Now comes some much-needed support by a privately funded project that will mean an annual infusion of $2 million a year for the next decade.

The project is called Breakthrough Listen, in which the dish at Green Bank and another in Australia will search the stars in 100 galaxies for other civilizations that may be out there.

“We are delighted to play such a vital role in hopefully answering one of the most compelling questions in all of science and philosophy: Are we alone in the Universe?” Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The project, funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, is endorsed by a number of scientists, including physicist Stephen Hawking. That’s significant star power, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Green Bank has been scanning the heavens for more than half a century…

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