Science

The historic Arecibo telescope collapsed after multiple cable breaks

A complete collapse of the Arecibo Observatory Telescope Instrument platform collapsed 305m last night. The collapse was confirmed this morning by the National Science Foundation in a series of official messages. The NSF is working with stakeholders to “assess the situation”, and no injuries are reported. According to a NSF representative: “Our top priority is to maintain safety.”

“The NSF is sad about this development,” he said Representative of the National Salvation Front. “As we move forward, we will look for ways to help the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”

The first major damage occurred in August of 2020, when an additional cable failed. The cable caused significant damage, cutting a wound in the dish below. After a second (larger) cable failed in November, engineering assessments suggested the platform needed to be dismantled to avoid catastrophic failure.

in a AP report, In the early morning hours of December 1, 2020, further cable failures caused the telescope receiver platform to sink and crash into the reflector dish 400 feet below. It is almost certain now that the 900-ton receiving platform and the reflecting plate below are out of any realistic repair.

Peek at the August Incident as the cable accident initiated the chain of events that ultimately lead to the final demise of the telescope and equipment below.

Starting in the early 1960s, the Arecibo Telescope has become the largest single-aperture telescope in the world. It held this number one position for more than 50 years, and was surpassed in size in 2016 by the Five Hundred Meter (FAST) Chinese Spherical Telescope. You might remember seeing the facility in one or more of its many film and television shows, in movies like James Bond’s GoldenEye, Genres, Connection, and the X-Files episode “Little Green Men. Peek at the timeline below to follow the last leg of this journey toward the end.”

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