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Green Bank Observatory  (GBO)

Name Email Phone Room
Edward  Ajhar (703) 292-7456  W9148  
Elizabeth  A. Pentecost (703) 292-4907  W9152  


Operating on behalf of NSF, the national community of astronomy researchers, and funding partners, Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities.  With radio astronomy as its foundation, GBO is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.  GBO provides key ground-based radio-wavelength research facilities for the US national community and carries out a program in education for public visitors to the facilities, undergraduates interested in astronomy, graduate students conducting dissertation research in astronomy, and postdoctoral researchers desiring access to the facilities.

GBO is located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest, and operations and maintenance are supported under the terms of a cooperative agreement between NSF and Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), a not-for-profit science management corporation.  NSF owns the GBO land, which consists of numerous parcels acquired by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, when GBO was formed as the first (and then, only) site of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).  The Allegheny Trail passes through portions of the GBO property along the Little Mountain ridgeline.  GBO is the anchor and administrative site of the 13,000-square-mile National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ).  GBO is located on approximately 2,200 acres in the NRQZ, where all radio transmissions are limited.  Having telescopes within the NRQZ allows for detection of faint scientific signals that would otherwise be drowned-out by man-made signals.  GBO operates the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world, which is 100-meter in diameter and is routinely operated between 300 MHz and 50 GHz for single dish observations of a broad range of cosmic phenomena.  Other GBO facilities include the 43-meter Telescope; the Green Bank Solar Radio Burst Spectrometer; the 20-meter Geodetic Telescope; the 40-foot Telescope; the Interferometer Range; and previously operational telescopes.

On October 1, 2016, GBO was separated from NSF-funded NRAO.  This separation followed a plan that NSF first communicated to the research community on March 22, 2013, in Dear Colleague Letter NSF 13-074.  The Breakthrough Prize Foundation provides additional funding to AUI to support research in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at GBO.  Other GBO funding partners include the NANOGrav Project (through a separate NSF funding line) and West Virginia University.

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