Charleston, WV – The Green Bank Observatory Telescope is being repaired with $5 million dollars from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito announced $5,300,000 from the NSF today, September 2, 2022. The money will be used for foundation repairs to the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

The GBT is vital for astronomical research. It is one of the world’s largest moving structures, with 16 wheels carrying 17 million pounds on a steel track that rotates so it can find and locate planets, stars, asteroids and other astronomical phenomena.

“West Virginia has a long history with groundbreaking space research, from Katherine Johnson to the Rocket Boys. The Green Bank Telescope is a critical tool for the national and global astronomical community, and I am pleased NSF is investing $5.3 million to upgrade its foundation and replace key equipment. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this funding, and I will continue working with NSF to support scientific research opportunities across the Mountain State.”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

“This commitment from the National Science Foundation to the Green Bank Telescope is welcomed, needed, and worthwhile. I have long advocated for the capabilities and opportunities for discovery that exist at the Green Bank Observatory. I am thankful for the NSF’s assistance in stabilizing the Green Bank Telescope so that the pursuit of scientific discovery can continue in Pocahontas County.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

Since the GBT’s completion in 2000, observatory staff perform annual maintenance to ensure the structural integrity of the telescope. Many components in the telescope are nearing the end of their planned lifetime, including the track’s top layer of “wear plates” and epoxy grout between the plates and foundation.

The funding announced today will be used to purchase 48 new wear plates, and grout will be replaced in sections through 2026. Additionally, two new techniques to stop cracking in the wear plates will be tested and used if they work.