Arecibo Observatory Options Workshop

An Interactive Workshop to Explore Novel Ideas for Future Scientific, Educational, and Cultural Activities with the Arecibo Observatory


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is keenly interested in exploring novel ideas for future scientific, educational, and cultural activities at the Arecibo Observatory following the collapse of the 305-meter telescope platform. In order to explore the broadest range of options possible, we will hold a workshop focused on finding actionable and innovative ways to support, broaden, and strengthen the radio science community across Puerto Rico and to create or enhance the opportunities for scientific, educational and cultural activities and public outreach at the Arecibo Observatory. All are welcome, and participants at universities, colleges, and non-academic organizations, such as museums (etc.), in Puerto Rico are particularly encouraged to contribute.

The goal of the workshop is to assemble a diverse, multidisciplinary group of researchers, engineers, and educators who will develop ideas and provide input for expanding the breadth and depth of radio science in Puerto Rico, as well as facilitate the generation of innovative design ideas for the Arecibo Observatory for the short (1–3 years), medium (3–10 years), or long term (10+ years). The broad theme of this activity is a multifaceted approach supporting any or all of the following: next generation science in astronomy, atmospheric and geospace sciences, planetary radar or related fields; inclusive educational and cultural programs; and robust radio science programs, including engineering, instrumentation and radio frequency interference (RFI) mitigation.

This workshop does not offer any direct funding opportunities, and no selection process will take place during the workshop. The aim of this workshop is to provide participants with the tools needed to produce a clear and collaborative proposal which may subsequently be submitted to the NSF or other funding organizations. All proposals for future activities at Arecibo, whether developed through this workshop or independently, will be reviewed following the formal proposal review process in place at the agency that receives them.


This workshop is aimed at individuals or teams who have an interest in guiding and developing the future science and education prospects of the Arecibo Observatory. The workshop will take place over several virtual sessions in June 2021 using a unique, highly interactive platform that allows participants to meet virtually, brainstorm, discuss novel and innovative ideas in groups, and to form collaborations to further develop some of these options. The expectation is that participants will engage in all of the live sessions, although some material will also be pre-recorded to allow participants to adapt the program to their own schedules where possible. There will be some additional work expected, independently or in groups, to develop ideas between the sessions, and the workshop will conclude with team-forming sessions and collaborative writing and presentation activities intended to develop the projects into actionable plans.

The application process is open to all interested parties. Application to the workshop will consist of a short form where potential participants are asked to provide a preliminary synopsis of their ideas for one or more projects that might be implemented at Arecibo Observatory or at an educational institution in Puerto Rico. Suggestions for science, technology, education or cultural programs are all welcome. The applications will be reviewed by the organizing committee, and as many applicants as possible will be invited, subject to the constraints of time and the online format. If space is available, applicants wishing to find projects to join, rather than proposing their own, may also be invited.

The workshop will be the equivalent of three days but will consist of shorter online sessions scheduled over several weeks, as shown below. Participants should make sure that they are available for all of the live sessions.

If you haven't applied yet, please feel free to do so. Please keep in mind that the applications do not have to be long and are not competitive. It is highly encouraged that participants attend all of the workshops; however, we also encourage participants with scheduling conflicts to still apply and reach out via email to see if scheduling conflicts can be accomodated. Please see the FAQ document for other commonly asked questions.

Timeline and Important Dates

Event Summary Duration Event Date
Overview Presentation of the situation at the Arecibo Observatory, current activities and constraints, and a review of the goals of the workshop 2 hours (12:00 ET) April 2
Technology Training "Happy Hour" An opportunity for participants to try out the technology they will be using, and allow individuals to get to know the other participants 2 hours (4:00 ET) June 2
Call to Action & Kickoff Orientation for participants to the scope of the workshop, and discussion of the criteria for success 4 hours (12:00 ET) June 4
Divergent Thinking To engage in multiple rounds of ideation 4 hours (12:00 ET) June 10
Stewarding Participants provide feedback and help flesh out others’ ideas 4 hours (12:00 ET) June 14
Team Formation Teams form to write up their ideas 2 hours (12:00 ET) June 16
Collecting Feedback Teams share preliminary outlines/drafts and solicit feedback before proceeding with their writing. 2 hours (12:00 ET) June 18
Closing Session Team give their final papers/presentations. 3 hours (12:00 ET) June 28

Application Now Closed

Participation in the June workshop sessions required submission of an application. There is no cost for participation in the Workshop. The application is not a solicitation for proposals.

For more information about the application process, please click here to download the Frequently Asked Questions document.

If you have questions or need additional information, please email our organizing team at Annemarie Boss, and NSF at Alison Peck