Press Statement 17-008

Arecibo: Statement on NSF Record of Decision

Decision formalizes NSF’s preferred path for maintaining science operations

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

November 16, 2017

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

On Nov. 15, 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) signed its Record of Decision for the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This important step concludes the agency's decision-making process with respect to the general path forward for facility operations in a budget-constrained environment and provides the basis for a future decision regarding a new collaborator.

NSF issued its Record of Decision following authorization from the National Science Board on Nov. 9, 2017. That followed an extensive environmental impact analysis and broad input from the public and the scientific community, including the National Academies 6th Decadal Survey released in 2010, the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences Portfolio Review Committee Report released in 2012 and the NSF Geospace Sciences Portfolio Review Committee Report released in 2016.

The decision formalizes the selection of NSF's preferred alternative: to collaborate with interested parties to maintain science-focused operations at the observatory with reduced agency funding. This plan will allow important research to continue while accommodating the agency's budgetary constraints and its core mission to support cutting-edge science and education.

NSF remains deeply concerned about the impacts from recent hurricanes on Arecibo Observatory staff, the facility and all citizens of Puerto Rico. The Record of Decision arrives at a challenging time, but is necessary for the agency to secure a future for the observatory. It will allow negotiations to begin with potential collaborators who may take over management and operations as NSF funding for the observatory is reduced.


Media Contacts
Aya Collins, NSF, (703) 292-7737, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social