Space & Astronomy
Iconic Arecibo telescope 'close to collapsing'
By T.K. Randall
November 20, 2020 · 17 comments
The Arecibo observatory during its better days. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 JidoBG
The decision has been taken to dismantle the world-famous telescope after it suffered 'catastrophic' damage.
Situated in Puerto Rico and constructed during the 1960s, the instantly recognizable Arecibo Observatory is characterized by its huge 1,000ft dish built into a natural depression in the hills.
For over 50 years it has observed the heavens and taught us much about the universe, while at the same time becoming a pop culture icon thanks to its appearance in various movies and video games.
It famously appeared in the James Bond movie GoldenEye
, as well in Jodie Foster's Contact
More recently however, damage caused to the telescope by Hurricane Maria in 2017, as well as by two earthquakes in 2019 and 2020, has caused two of its support cables to snap, leaving it dangerously unsupported and with the potential to collapse at any time.
Officials have now concluded that repairs would put workers at too great a risk and the difficult decision has been made to dismantle the facility entirely.
It marks a sad end to a remarkable era of radio astronomy for the observatory.
"Everyone involved with this facility should be proud of what you have achieved," said Eddie Bernice Johnson and Frank Lucas of the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
"Arecibo will be remembered for an illustrious scientific legacy."
Source: BBC News
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