Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico collapses after 57 years


Aerial view exhibiting the harm on the Arecibo Observatory

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP by way of Getty Photos

The massive 815-tonne platform of the Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico has collapsed, falling 140 metres into its reflector dish under. The information comes mere weeks after the US Nationwide Science Basis (NSF) introduced the telescope’s decommissioning amid security issues.

On 1 December at 7:55am native time (11:55am GMT), the receiver platform got here crashing down into the 300-metre-wide reflector dish. The platform is often suspended above the reflector dish by cables linked to a few assist towers.


There have been no experiences of accidents following the collapse. The NSF is still investigating why the platform fell, however preliminary findings present that the highest of the three assist towers broke off. Because the platform plunged into the reflector dish, the cables had been unable to assist its weight.

Final month, the NSF introduced that the Arecibo Observatory was to be dismantled amid security issues. It was one of many largest radio telescopes on this planet, working for 57 years.

“It’s a tragic finish to a spectacular telescope,” says Dave Clements, an astrophysicist at Imperial Faculty London. “The wonderful instrument has been concerned in all kinds of issues.”

It has accelerated many scientific discoveries within the discipline of radio astronomy, together with the primary strong proof for a neutron star and exoplanets.

The collapse is an inevitable consequence of a string of distressing occasions at Arecibo, says Clements. The telescope was broken throughout a tropical storm in August, having already been battered by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“My most important fear now could be for all of the individuals who work there,” says Paulo Freire on the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, who labored at Arecibo Observatory for greater than eight years. The telescope was a helpful instrument even till its final month and there may be now an enormous staff of researchers who’ve a really unsure future, he says.

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