The Green Bank Telescope sits at the back of the scientific and engineering facility we created in the historic town of Green Bank, West Virginia. The site was founded decades before the GBT, in 1957, and was constructed with the technological and creature comforts needed to maintain a busy, happy workforce in the middle of rural forest land.
Laboratories hum with the activities of the world's experts in radio wave receiver and processor design, and the giant machine shop turns out precision hardware used on telescopes around the world. Radio astronomers, astrochemists, and planetary scientists analyze their data down the hall from a copper-enclosed control room where operators run the big radio telescopes day and night. Educators interpret our science and technology for school children in the 25,000 square-foot Science Center, and presenters give tourists a narrated bus ride through the active and historic telescopes on our 2700-acre Observatory.
Green Bank has no hotels or motels, so visiting astronomers often live in a dormitory on site or rent one of the homes we care for on site, including the house that was historically occupied by the site directors. Full time staff can rent housing in one of several ranch homes or townhouses down the road. Summer students live in the old farmhouse called the Hannah House, and Scouts groups sometimes set up tents in our campground or sleep over in the bunkhouse.
Cooks in the cafeteria serve meals for the staff to purchase, and they have supported the local community during natural disasters. The Science Center's Starlight cafe staff serves food for anyone who pops in to the Science Center for a bite. Cashiers attend the gift shop and tourist desk. Cleaning staff maintain a healthy working environment in all of these diverse spaces and places.
A grounds crew battles the lush greens of Green Bank and insures the roads are safe. Technicians and mechanics have to be Jacks of all trades to be ready to troubleshoot a myriad of issues inside buildings, on telescopes, or in vehicles.
The expression "it takes a village" was never more aptly applied than here in Green Bank.