The work provided by the grant will be for PARI’s Research Building, an 18,000-square-foot, two-story structure initially constructed by NASA as an instrumentation and research building for the 1960s Applications Technology Satellite program. The building now houses PARI’s Astronomical Photographic Data Archive, Radio Frequency Lab and Aeronomy Lab, and is used extensively by visiting scientists and students. The Research Building will receive a new roof and renovations to the HVAC and electrical generation equipment. The grant will also provide funding for repairs to PARI’s flagship instruments, two 26-meter radio telescopes.
“We are most grateful to the National Science Foundation for this assistance,” said Dr. David Clavier, PARI vice president and co-leader for the grant work. “This grant is another validation of the important nature of the research programs currently underway at PARI, and of the importance to provide an infrastructure that will support the efforts of future generations of scientists and students. Not only will the improved infrastructure impact our research and science education capabilities, but since all of the award funds go directly to local companies hired to do the renovation of our Research Building, the local economy will feel a direct impact.”
Clavier noted that all the funds will be spent with local companies with no money spent on PARI’s operations or programs. “This is a capital improvements project,” he said, “and does not include any operational overhead for PARI. Actually, the work will add expenses for us in terms of overhead operations and project supervision, but given the important nature of this work we think it is money well spent.”
Dr. Michael Castelaz, PARI research director and grant co-leader, said programs that will benefit immediately from the grant include “APDA, which is a national repository of historic astronomical photographs and images that we are turning into an online resource for scientists and students from around the world. The RF Lab supports the radio astronomy projects led by PARI Visiting Research Scientists from UNC-Asheville and Furman University. Their projects combine our two 26-meter radio telescopes into a giant instrument capable of probing into the deepest recesses of space. The Aeronomy Lab is a collaborative project with Clemson University that is providing scientists with valuable data about the dynamics of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Not only will this grant enhance and ensure the continuity of these existing programs, it will provide us with the opportunity to place a world-class research facility within reach of scientists throughout our state and region.”
The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah Forest 30 miles southwest of Asheville, NC, the PARI campus is a dark sky location for astronomy and was selected in 1962 by NASA as the site for one of the first U.S. satellite tracking facilities. Today, the 200 acre campus houses radio and optical telescopes, earth science instruments, 30 buildings, a fulltime staff and all the infrastructure necessary to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and research. PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research. The institute is a member of the NC Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative, a partner in NC OPT-ED and is affiliated with the 16-campus University of North Carolina system through PARSEC, a UNC Center hosted at PARI. For more information about PARI and its programs, visit www.pari.edu.
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