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Iconic Arecibo telescope 'close to collapsing'

Posted on Friday, 20 November, 2020 | Comment icon 7 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 | Comments (7)

Tags: Arecibo

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by third_eye on 12 August, 2020, 14:55
"aliens" ~
Comment icon #2 Posted by OverSword on 12 August, 2020, 15:53
That sucks.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 August, 2020, 22:21
In recent times the biggest threat to Arecebo has been the many budget cuts that it has suffered over more than a decade. In 2017 the observatory suffered minor damage from a hurricane, but because of it's limited budget it was feared that this would lead to the observatory being shut down. Fortunately the money was found Even though the damage appears worse this time, I actually think that the funding will be found to fix it. The reason I think this is because China has recently started operating an even larger radio telescope. Arecebo will be saved not for scientific reasons but political on... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Still Waters on 12 November, 2020, 12:18
Comment icon #5 Posted by Eldorado on 20 November, 2020, 12:47
Heartbreaking news. After 57 years as a world-class resource for astronomy, the iconic Arecibo telescope is to be decommissioned, or withdrawn from service, the NSF announced today. The dish-type radio telescope – built into a natural depression in the landscape in Puerto Rico – appears to be headed for a “controlled disassembly.” EarthSky
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 on 20 November, 2020, 17:57
End of an era. That's sad, but probably for the best at this point. I mean, it's apparently a danger and we have other, more advanced radio telescopes now.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Twin on 20 November, 2020, 19:58
The future is in off-world hardware.  Time to move on.

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