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- Observatory may turn deaf ear to galaxy - In the tangled forests of Puerto Rico's steamy interior, suspended by steel cables strung from 300-foot towers, an array of antennas hangs above an aluminum bowl 1,000 feet in diameter that gazes into space. Arecibo Observatory, the largest and most sensitive radio telescope on Earth, looks like a secret outpost built by aliens. In fact, one of its missions is to search the galactic frontier for signs of intelligent life - a sci-fi goal that landed it a leading role in the Jodie Foster movie "Contact" and cameos in a James Bond flick. But among astronomers, Arecibo is an icon of hard science. Its instruments have netted a decades-long string of discoveries about the structure and evolution of the universe. Its high-powered radar has mapped in exquisite detail the surfaces and interiors of neighboring planets. However, due to budget restraints, The National Science Foundation fears it will have to close if funding cannot be found.
Source: San Fransisco Chronicle [17th Sep 2007]