Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

A proposal to rebuild Arecibo as a better radio telescope

Even as the National Science Foundation (NSF) proceeds with the disassembly of the destroyed Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, some astronomers are proposing that a new radio telescope be built in its place, with a new design that will not require the instrument platform floating above a single dish.

Here’s the idea as outlined in a white paper circulated by Roshi and his colleagues: The Next Generation Arecibo Telescope would pack hundreds, maybe even more than 1,000 smaller radio dishes into the same space now occupied by the single 305-meter dish. Those smaller antennas would combine forces to act like a single larger telescope (no suspended instrument platform required).

Ideally, those dishes would be on a single, tiltable platform to access more of the sky from the Arecibo site; it’s possible multiple platforms could do the same.

The revamped telescope would have twice the sky coverage of the legacy dish, 500 times the field of view in individual images, at least double the sensitivity, and five times the radar power.

The cost for this new radio telescope is presently estimated to be about half a billion. Considering that the NSF didn’t have the money to operate the old Arecibo telescope, which was why it wasn’t properly maintained and collapsed, I doubt it has the cash to build this replacement. Congress, which likes printing money it doesn’t have, might step in and fund it, but if so that will only add to the national debt that is certainly going to cause the bankruptcy of the nation at some point in the future, a point that is getting closer and closer with each new trillion that Congress nonchalantly spends, on almost a monthly schedule.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Jeff Wright

    This is a wiser investment certainly-for asteroid scans. I don’t trust it to NSF. This thing-if it gets money-needs to be a Space Force asset…with uniforms in charge and no lay-abouts.

  • Chamist

    If the new telescope is going to be on a tilting platform and consist of 1000 small dishes, then why does it have to be in Puerto Rico?
    Why couldn’t it be anywhere?
    Certainly, there are cheaper places to build that Puerto Rico.

  • Jeff Wright

    I like Meteor Crater-dry as plane boneyards.

  • Max

    As good as this compromise sounds, one large dish in orbit would be capable of so much more.
    Factors of magnitude on capabilities, availability, resolution, ect.
    No more hurricanes and power blackouts to worry about. It can even be made as part of a larger science structure that is permanently maned.
    Although, even this structure would be temporary as larger dishes are installed in the northern and southern hemisphere of the Radio quiet far side of the moon were nowhere in our solar system that cannot be monitored continuously. (except from behind the sun which we can move the old orbital dish into position ahead of earths orbit, like a Trojan, as an early warning surveyor so there are no Blindspot’s)

    Perhaps the infrared telescope will be at last placed in Earth’s Lagrange shadow by then. Construction, maintenance and cooling system refueling could be easily done from a permanent lunar base.
    Leave Arecibo as a national Park and tourist trap. The regressive Progressive would find a way to destroy any technology constructed there anyway. Just look at what is still occurring blocking the telescope in Hawaii…
    War is peace, slavery is freedom, and I really like the green new deal where we must destroy the earth to save it…

    Let’s build in space where regressive rocks and arrows can’t reach us. Where real science must be followed because it will determine life and death.
    We must get away from fearful ignorant fanatics making decisions by the consensus of committee. (and whomever FUNDED that committee)

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *