Meeting held on future of Green Bank observatory

WASHINGTON – Planners are discussing the future of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, convened a meeting on Monday about the facility’s future.

In 2012, the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy Portfolio Review Committee recommended the agency divest from the Green Bank Observatory over the next five years. The foundation said it will not act on that recommendation until the end of the year.

The observatory was founded in 1956. The first radio telescope was completed there in 1959.

“The Green Bank Observatory is more than a hub of world-class scientific research, it’s a source of enormous and lasting pride for the people of West Virginia,” Rockefeller said. “Simply put, it’s a state treasure.”

West Virginia University has considered a minority management role in the observatory.

Rockefeller, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have been involved in continuing Green Bank’s operations.

“I am glad that WVU has stepped forward and is committed to building a strong partnership with the observatory,” Rahall said.

The university partnership would allow researchers to expand astronomy research and education, Fred King, vice president of research at WVU, said.

“West Virginia University is committed to building a strong partnership with the Green Bank Observatory based upon several WVU faculty hires over the last several years,” King