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AO Remote Optical Facility (ROF)

The Arecibo Observatory Remote Optical Facility (ROF) is located in Culebra, a small island in the east of Puerto Rico’s archipelago (approximately 150 km from Arecibo Observatory). Culebra is a federal nature reserve and was chosen due to its geographical and climatological characteristics, as well as the low light contamination, making it a strategic site for optical experiments.

Initially, the ROF was deployed in an area of 340 m2 at the central portion of Culebra (18o19’03” N; 65o16’40” W). One climate-controlled container was placed on this site hosting the optical and radio receiver instrumentation. The ROF operated continuously from November 4, 2015, to September 4, 2017. Due to the slow recovery following hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico (September 5 and 20, 2017, respectively) and subsequent re-competition of the cooperative agreement for the management of the Arecibo Observatory, the ROF was temporarily disassembled. Finally, on May 27, 2018, an updated ROF resumed operations in a more secluded location in Culebra, under the new management of the University of Central Florida (UCF). Since then, the ROF is in continuous operation and expanding its cluster of optical and radio instrumentation.

At present, the ROF occupies an area of 500 m2 at the north coast of Culebra (18o19’47” N; 65o18’25” W). There are two climate-controlled containers on site: one hosts optical and radio instruments and a control room; the other is lodging for scientists and technicians. One of the relevant features of the updated ROF is its sustainability: a solar system with backup feeds the facility, and the water collected from the rain is kept in a reservoir for use. This feature is particularly crucial for maintaining operations during the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

More details about the ROF can be found at

Projects Under Development

Culebra Aerosol Research Lidar

CARLA’s research instrument, a high spectral resolution aerosol lidar, will be developed at the main site of the Arecibo Observatory (AO) and, thereafter, installed at the Remote Optica Facility of the AO in Culebra island. CARLA will deliver information about aerosol properties over time and altitude.

Puerto Rican Initiate for Studies using Meteor Radarr (PRISMA)

PRISMA will deploy the first Caribbean all-sky VHF Meteor Radar in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. PRISMA’s goals involve determining the meteor’s climatology in Puerto Rico vicinities, and meteor flux properties, aiding research in planetary, meteor, and atmospheric sciences. PRISMA will also evaluate the potential of using meteor radar to study space debris, providing new tools to support the space environment’s protection.

ROF All-Sky Imager Data

The all-sky imager data files available for ROF is organized by year and wavelength (in Angstroms). Once selected the wavelength, the link will take you to a list of months. After selecting the month, a list mp3 time-lapse movie will appear. For specific data requests, including mapped images or further analysis, please contact:

Time-Lapse Movies

The files are organize following the YYYY-MM-DD_ROF format. We recommend Firefox browser to open the movie clips.

Person of Contact

Principal Investigator
Dr. Pedrina Terra dos Santos
Senior Observatory Scientist
Phone: ( 787) 878-2612 Ext. 258

Technical Support Team
Raul Garcia
Christian Cortes
Carlos Perez