Facing tight budgets, a National Science Foundation panel has recommended the shuttering of five major ground-based telescopes.


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Facing tight budgets, a National Science Foundation panel has recommended the shuttering of five major ground-based telescopes.

Stay tuned for loud screams of outrage. However, some of these facilities have not been very useful for years. Consider the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Radio Telescope. It was only rebuilt after it collapsed in 1988 because of the political clout of Senator Robert Byrd. By the time that reconstruction was finished, a process that took more than 20 years, the telescope was completely obsolete. Though it has done some good science, it is far outmatched by other radio telescope arrays.

Many of the facilities are funded merely due to bureaucratic and political inertia. For the astronomical community to be willing to recognize this is a good thing, for which they should be lauded.

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