GREEN BANK, W.Va. — Funding from West Virginia University will help keep the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope open in Pocahontas County for a little while.

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller announced the agreement between WVU and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the site manager, on Friday.

With it, WVU will provide $1 million over the next two years to help pay for telescope personnel and operations in exchange for 500 additional research hours on the telescope for WVU faculty and students.

Rockefeller lead a meeting focused on the future of the Green Bank Telescope last month.

“The observatory is vital to scientific research, exploration and discovery and its presence in our mountains creates a pride that all West Virginians hold close to their hearts,” said Rockefeller in a statement.  “I’ve promised to fight ceaselessly to keep it open and thriving.”

Rockefeller is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology.

Last year, a review committee recommended that the National Science Foundation divest from the Green Bank Observatory during the next five years.

No decision has yet been made on that recommendation.

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.  It has been in full-scale scientific operation since 2002.

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  • Angela Shock

    The Greenbank Telescope has been used to further science ( and not listen for aliens.

    I think you are refering to Sugar Grove, an NSA listening post, also in the quiet zone around the Greenbank Telescope.

    Yes, I agree it isn't the most beautiful sight to see in the hills of WV, but the structure is magnificent in and of itself. Ever been up close to it?

  • DWL

    Isn’t this next to the NSA listening station? Sorry – Navy base? (said with a snicker). The only aliens they are listening to are the illegals in the US, by accident, while O’s crews are spying on the citizens here. O, that’s right – just storing data. (yet another snicker)

  • Tim C

    Biggest waste of money ever spent. We have a lot more pressing issues than listening for Aliens.

  • thornton

    The facility mars the Viewshed, if you ask me. But, good to know that someone is listening....'course, not listening on a cell phone.