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Hawaii astronomers assessing scope of data lost during shutdown

LAST UPDATED: 5:19 p.m. HST, Oct 19, 2013

KAILUA-KONA » Astronomers at Mauna Kea and other sites in the nationwide system of 10 radio telescopes are trying to determine how much damage has been done to their research during the government shutdown.

Dale Frail, director of the Very Long Baseline Array, told West Hawaii Today that the impact to measurements will be difficult to assess.

With Earth in motion, the telescopes must work within precise windows of time to make measurements. Frail said half of the measurements taken at the time of the shutdown will be lost, making worthless a year's worth of research on the motions of spiral arms of galaxies and nearby neutron stars.

Frail said he fears the telescopes also missed a rare opportunity to document a black hole becoming active.

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