National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Fact Sheet

ORGANIZATION: National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

MISSION: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) enables cutting-edge research in the study of the Universe using radio astronomy techniques, attracts and trains future scientists and engineers, and stimulates public interest in science.

PRINCIPAL LOCATIONS: The NRAO is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, which also is the location of our NRAO Technology Center. Telescope operations are located in Green Bank, West Virginia, and Socorro, New Mexico.

FUNDING AND OPERATION: The NRAO is a research facility of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent agency of the U.S. Government, with an annual budget provided by Congress. The NRAO is operated for the NSF by Associated Universities, Inc., under a cooperative agreement. AUI is a nonprofit research corporation founded in 1946.

CURRENT TELESCOPES: The Very Large Array (VLA), near Socorro, New Mexico; the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a continent-wide telescope system headquartered in Socorro, New Mexico; and the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), in Green Bank, West Virginia.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international project being built on the Atacama Desert in northern Chile; and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA), which uses the current infrastructure of the VLA but with updated systems that will vastly improve the scientific capabilities of the instrument.

RESEARCH: The NRAO is a national facility, open to use by all scientists. Observing time on NRAO telescopes is granted through a peer-review process. Scientists submit observing proposals that are peer-reviewed, and telescope scheduling committees award observing time based on the results of the reviews. In a typical year, more than 1,100 scientists from more than 250 different institutions will use more than 20,000 hours of observing time on NRAO telescopes.

RESEARCH RESULTS: In a typical year, more than 400 scientific papers will be published based on data produced by NRAO telescopes. Since NRAO's founding, research using our telescopes has produced some 9,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers. These papers cover nearly the entire range of astronomical specialties.

EDUCATION AND PUBLIC OUTREACH: The NRAO operates educational programs that serve students from kindergarten through graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Over the years, nearly 600 Ph.D dissertations have been based on data from NRAO telescopes. For the general public, we operate the Green Bank Science Center in West Virginia and the VLA Visitor Center in New Mexico, which annually host more than 60,000 visitors combined. Other NRAO outreach programs serve museum visitors across the nation, amateur astronomers, and the news media.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: Approximately 570 total employees, with approximately 140 in Charlottesville, approximately 130 in Green Bank, and approximately 300 in Socorro.

KEY DATES: The NRAO was established by NSF on 17 November 1956. The 85-foot Howard E. Tatel Telescope was dedicated in Green Bank, West Virginia, on 16 October 1958.
Complete NRAO Timeline.

ANNUAL BUDGET: Approximately $50 million.

Modified on Thursday, 03-Apr-2008 10:25:41 MDT