Professor William E. Gordon was the founder of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Prof. Gordon was the Walter R. Reed Professor of Electrical Engineering at Cornell in 1958 when he began designing the radio telescope to study the Earth's upper atmosphere and nearby space.

Built in the limestone hills of northwest Puerto Rico and funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the 305-meter (1,000-foot)-wide telescope is the most powerful radio telescope in the world; and a central tool for research in astronomy, atmospheric science, planetary science and engineering.

Gordon served as the observatory's director until 1965. Using the radar signals reflected by electrons, he studied the temperature, density, chemical composition and other properties of the ionosphere, which he called "both the gateway to space and our first line of defense against the deadly radiation streaming toward us from the sun and other stars."

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