20th Anniversary of ONR Global in Santiago, Chile
U.S. Chief of Naval Research RAdm. Lorin Selby, as well as other leaders from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and ONR Global, recently traveled to Santiago, Chile, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ONR Global’s office in that city.
The celebration was part of a week-long series of engagements related to the two-decade anniversary of the Santiago office, which is located at the U.S. Embassy. ONR Global established the office in 2002 to cultivate scientific collaboration in Chile and throughout Latin America, sponsoring research to discover and advance naval capabilities.
Over the years, grants from ONR Global Santiago have supported a wide variety of science and technology projects all over Latin America, encompassing topics such as tsunami prediction, marine biofilms, polar navigation, marine mammal research, climate and meteorological research, and robotics.
The connections between the U.S., its Navy and Chile stretch back to 1849, when Lt. James Melville Gilliss, who helped establish the U.S. Naval Observatory, arrived in Chile with a small team of assistants to set up an observatory in Santiago. Their goal was to measure the solar parallax: determining the distance from the Earth to the Sun by observing the Sun simultaneously from two points along a known baseline on approximately the same longitude; in this case, the line between Washington, D.C., and Santiago.
Over the course of three years, Gilliss’ team would accomplish far more than these astronomical observations: collections of flora and fauna sent back to the U.S. became an early addition to the young Smithsonian Institution, seeds of various trees and crops were exchanged between the two countries, and equipment used during the expedition would form the nucleus of Chile’s first modern observatory.