ITHACA, N.Y. — In a joint ceremony Nov. 3, the Institute of
Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society
of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) will commemorate the engineering and
scientific contributions of Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The 1,000-foot-diameter Arecibo radio/radar telescope, the world’s
largest, will be declared an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering
and an ASME Landmark in Mechanical Engineering. Arecibo Observatory
will be the eighth recipient of these prestigious joint awards, most
recently given to the Stanford Linear Accelerator. The award was
requested by the Puerto Rico and Caribbean Section of the IEEE.

The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and
Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by
Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National
Science Foundation.

The observatory was dedicated in 1963. Its unique design was based
on the efforts of William Gordon, then a professor of engineering at
Cornell, to build an instrument that would use radar to study the
ionosphere, an upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, and objects in
the solar system. The telescope’s radar transmitters and sensitive
electronic systems for picking up and analyzing weak signals have
produced a host of significant scientific results, from the √ěrst
binary pulsar and confirmation of gravitational radiation, to
detection of ice on the surface of Mercury.

"None of this would have been possible without the contribution of
numerous innovations in radio frequency antenna, electronics and
signal processing design," says Paul Goldsmith, director of NAIC and
the J.A. Weeks Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell. "These
honors reflect the creativity and dedication of the staff of the
observatory and the NAIC. I join in saluting all the individuals,
starting with Bill Gordon, who have contributed so much to
technological and scientific innovation through their work with the
wonderful instrument at Arecibo that is being honored through these
awards." The telescope’s design also led to advances in electrical
engineering, through antenna design, signal processing and electronic
instrumentation. In mechanical engineering, it advanced antenna
suspension and drive systems. The drive system, for example,
positions all active parts of the antenna with millimeter precision,
regardless of temperature changes and wind effects, enabling the
telescope to maintain accurate focus and pointing.

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o Arecibo Observatory: