[Congressional Record Volume 149, Number 156 (Friday, October 31, 2003)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2181]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. ANIBAL ACEVEDO-VILA

                             of puerto rico

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, October 30, 2003

  Mr. ACEVEDO-VILA. Mr. Speaker, this week Puerto Rico is celebrating 
the 40th Anniversary of the Arecibo Observatory, home of the largest 
and most sensitive radio telescope in the world. For this occasion, 
more than 100 scientists from around the world will gather November 1 
through the 4th for a series of workshops, including one on the most 
recent astronomical advances of the giant telescope. For Puerto Rico, 
there is another reason to celebrate: for the first time since the 
creation of the observatory in 1963, a Puerto Rican is at its helm. 
Sixto Gonzalez, who has served as assistant director of special and 
atmospheric sciences of the observatory since 2001, was named Director 
of the observatory October 1.
  The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and 
Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by 
Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National 
Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent federal agency 
whose aim is to promote scientific and engineering progress in the 
United States. NAIC also provides additional support for the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  As the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, the 
Observatory is recognized as one of the most important national centers 
for research in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial 
aeronomy. Use of the Arecibo Observatory is available on an equal, 
competitive basis to all scientists from throughout the world. 
Observing time is granted on the basis of the most promising research 
as ascertained by a panel of independent referees who review the 
proposals sent to the Observatory by interested scientists. Every year 
about 200 scientists visit the Observatory facilities to pursue their 
research project, and numerous students perform observations that lead 
to their master and doctoral dissertations.
  The Arecibo Observatory has its origins as an idea of Professor 
William E. Gordon, then of Cornell University, who was interested in 
the study of the Ionosphere. Gordon's research during the 1950's led 
him to the idea of radar back-scatter studies of the ionosphere. 
Professor Gordon's persistence culminated in the construction of the 
Arecibo Observatory, which began in the summer of 1960 and three years 
later the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory (AID) was in operation under 
the direction of Gordon. The formal opening ceremony took place on 
November 1, 1963.
  On October 1, 1969 the National Science Foundation assumed ownership 
of the facility from the Department of Defense and the Observatory was 
made a national research center. On September 1971 the AIO became the 
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC).
  The Arecibo Observatory employs about 140 persons in support of the 
operation. A scientific staff of about 16 divides their time between 
scientific research and assistance to visiting scientists. Engineers, 
computer experts, and technicians design and build new instrumentation 
and keep it in operation.
  The Arecibo Observatory is a Puerto Rican landmark. Hundreds of 
tourists visit it every year and it has been a desired site for recent 
filming of many movies as well. As this notable landmark appears 
frequently in films and TV, it is a source of pride for all Puerto 
Ricans, both as the home of the Arecibo Observatory and as an emblem of 
the contributions to science from Puerto Rico in general.
  Mr. Speaker, today I want to congratulate the people of Puerto Rico, 
the Arecibo Observatory and its scientists on its 40-year anniversary. 
Also, congratulations to Director Sixto Gonzalez for his great job and 
recent ascension to the leadership of the Arecibo Observatory.