Dear Director Córdova
We are writing in strong support of Associated Universities, Inc’s (AUI) proposal to continue to operate and manage the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) for the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Radio astronomy enables research into the birthplaces of stars and planets, super-massive black holes, gravitational waves, chemical precursors of life, and the remnant heat of the Big Bang. New Mexico is home to the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA), one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories that attracts researchers from across the globe. The NRAO’s Pete V. Domenici Science Operations Center Socorro houses scientific, engineering, technical, computer and support staff for both EVLA and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The operations center’s location on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech) helps foster strong partnerships that benefit university students and researchers at both NM Tech and NRAO.
In addition to its contributions to science, NRAO has a positive impact in the local community. NRAO has approximately 200 employees in the Socorro area, and their families contribute more than $20 million per year to the local economy. The EVLA helps attract 20,000 tourists annually. AUI and NRAO further support educational outreach programs that help spark children’s interest in opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
AUI is a longstanding partner in developing the exiting radio astronomy facilities in Socorro, which are poised to be at the forefront of radio astronomy for many years. We support the AUI proposal and urge you to give it thoughtful consideration within the guidelines of your rules and regulations.