Arecibo binoculars crash, ending 57 years of running Science

On November 7, a second cable break broke through the vessel panels of the Arecibo telescope and brought the suspended instrument platform to the brink of collapse.

Arecibo Observatory / University of Central Florida

By Eric Hand

The Arecibo Observatory is gone. A 900-ton dashboard hung over a vessel in the karst hills of Puerto Rico collapsed this morning at 8 a.m. local time, says Ramon Lugo, director of the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida, who is the 57-year-old radio telescope for the National Science Foundation (NSF). ) for. On November 19, NSF decided to shut down the observatory after two cable breaks that placed the platform on the brink of collapse. But in the end, he couldn’t survive too long for a controlled breakdown.

“I feel bad in my stomach,” Lugo says, stifling tears. “Truth be told, there was a lot of work that a lot of people were trying to restore. It is disappointing that we were not successful. It’s a very difficult morning.

Lugo said no one was near the pot when the platform fell. But he did not have all the details of how the structure developed. He believes that the failure of one of the remaining cables caused the connection between the platform and one of the three support towers. These cables carried extra voltage after the two previous failures. And since the Feast of Thanksgiving, according to Lugo, these remaining cables have about He says he told NSF that the structure had only a week or two left before it collapsed.

Engineers today are examining the condition of the three support towers, Lugo says, and see if they can put together how it collapsed. He is concerned about the 130 staff of the Observatory and their future. “I can’t imagine how they feel,” he says.