It’s a sad day for the world of astronomy as it has just been announced that the famous Arecibo Telescope has just collapsed. Constructed in 1963 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the telescope was built on a natural sinkhole using more than 38,778 perforated aluminum panels. For over 50 years, the Arecibo held the record for the largest (305 meters) single-aperture telescope in the world until it was surpassed by China’s FAST telescope in 2016.
Over the years, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded observatory suffered damage from tropical storms which would require minor repairs, but it was the large cable breaks in August and November of this year that set forth the final catastrophic failure. With two of its 18 cables missing, the Arecibo’s structural integrity was greatly compromised and was planned for decommissioning. Sadly, before the replacement cables could arrive, the suspended 820-tonne receiver came crashing down from 150 meters above — damaging the telescope beyond repair.
On top of this being a great loss for Puerto Rico in terms of being a scientific treasure, the global community for astronomy is saddened by Arecibo’s untimely collapse. Outside of extraterrestrial discovery, many will remember the Arecibo Telescope from the iconic scene in GoldenEye when James Bond faces off against Alec Trevelyan while trying to sabotage the telescope.
In other tech news, Elon Musk says SpaceX plans to bring humans to Mars in six years.
The instrument platform of the 305m telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico fell overnight. No injuries were reported. NSF is working with stakeholders to assess the situation. Our top priority is maintaining safety. NSF will release more details when they are confirmed. pic.twitter.com/Xjbb9hPUgD
— National Science Foundation (@NSF) December 1, 2020
The news about #Arecibo is so sad. This remarkable telescope holds a special place in the story of our field thanks to Hulse & Taylor's #NobelPrize winning work charting the effects of #GravitationalWaves emission on binary pulsar PSR B1913+16 #WhatAreciboMeansToMe pic.twitter.com/tePeTIOrP5
— LIGO (@LIGO) November 24, 2020