National Radio Astronomy Observatory Response to the 2012 NSF Portfolio Review Committee Report


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a national scientific resource for astronomy. The Observatory’s radio telescope suite includes the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). These research facilities are a synergistic, operationally-coordinated group of unique instruments that embody US global leadership in radio astronomy and complement current and planned major astronomical research tools, both space-borne and ground-based. NRAO facilities enable fundamental astronomical research across a vast wavelength range: 0.3 mm to 1m. While individually unique, these facilities are also complementary. The recently completed Jansky VLA will be the most powerful and versatile cm-interferometer for at least the next decade. The GBT provides sensitive single-dish wide-field imaging and spectroscopy up to 3mm, and is the premier pulsar-timing instrument. The VLBA performs imaging and astrometry with the highest available spatial resolution and precision, and provides earth orientation and rotation information to support civil and defense applications. The soon-to-be completed ALMA represents a quantum leap in millimeter astronomy that is already opening exciting discovery space on the thermal cosmos.

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