U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce announced that New Mexico State University (NMSU) will receive $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to upgrade the Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope in Sunspot, N.M. The NSF award – appropriately announced on the fall equinox – will support efforts to transition the operation of the research facility from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) to a university-based consortium led by NMSU.
“We’re excited that NSF have provided us with this opportunity to reinvent the Dunn Solar Telescope for new studies of the sun,” NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said. “This funding makes it possible for us to work in Sunspot, N.M. alongside the National Solar Observatory, and retains the potential for continued valuable operations of the Dunn Solar Telescope and surrounding facilities. The next challenge for the research community is to develop a nationwide consortium of institutions that will take advantage of the unique capabilities of the telescope into the future. The Department of Astronomy at NMSU can now lead that effort. The Sunspot site also provides for jobs and public outreach in Otero County, and it is a science go-to tourist destination, bringing more money into the state of New Mexico. As such, NMSU have worked closely with Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Congressman Pearce on this effort and we thank them for their continuing interest and support of this project into the future.”