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Operation of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas is suspended due to shutdown

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Operations of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Pocahontas County are being suspended because of the partial federal government shutdown.

The idling of operations there started Oct. 4.

NRAO officials said four days into the shutdown, there was not enough funding to keep operations going at the West Virginia site along with those in New Mexico and Virginia.

An estimated 120 employees in Pocahontas County will be on unpaid furlough until the shutdown ends.  Many of them work for Associated Universities which receives federal funding from the National Science Foundation.

As of the afternoon of Oct. 4, there were no indications of movement from Capitol Hill on a compromise spending bill to allow for a full restart of government operations.  The shutdown started Oct. 1, which was the beginning of the new fiscal year.

A secondary telescope at Green Bank, being used as a downlink for a Russian radio astronomy experiment, will continue to operate.