POCAHONTAS CO., WV (BY: ANNE LI, WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC BROADCASTING) – Nestled in the hills in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, is the Green Bank Telescope. At 485 feet tall and about 300 feet across, it’s the largest fully-steerable telescope in the world, and it belongs to Green Bank Observatory.
Since the observatory opened in 1957, researchers have used the facility to make several discoveries, like organic prebiotic molecules — the building blocks of life. The Green Bank Telescope is also one of only two radio telescopes in the world searching for signs of intelligent life in space. But today, the telescope and the facility that supports it are under federal review — with the possibility of losing funding or being dismantled.
In the face of that threat, one West Virginia family hopes to convince the powers that be of the facility’s value to science, education and the small town in which the telescope resides.
“It’s almost like a tiny metropolitan city in the middle of rural West Virginia,” said Ellie White, a 16-year-old from Barboursville, West Virginia. “That kind of resource is invaluable for kids across the state and across the country, who are going to be tomorrow’s innovators, engineers, scientists, politicians, artists.”