Oct 23, 2022

The most iconic radio telescope ever is gone for good, U.S. government declares

Posted by in categories: climatology, education, government, space

The collapse of Arecibo’s radio telescope was a devastating blow to the radio astronomy community. Issues began in 2017 for the nearly 55-year-old telescope when Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, shearing off one of the 29-meter (96-foot) antennas that was suspended above the telescope’s 305-meter (1,000-foot) dish, with falling debris puncturing the dish in several places.

In early 2020, earthquakes temporarily closed the observatory for safety reasons; then a succession of cable failures ultimately led to the December 2020 collapse of the 900-ton instrument platform suspended above the observatory, which crashed down on the iconic telescope’s giant dish. This collapse officially ended any possible hopes of refurbishing the famous observatory.

Since then, many have called for the telescope to be rebuilt or for building an even better replacement telescope at the site. Instead, the NSF wants Arecibo to serve as a hub for STEM education and outreach.

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