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Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, They determined that the telescope could collapse because it is "in danger of catastrophic failure" and the cables are weaker than expected. Update on Arecibo Observatory Facility After Telescope Damage Operations at the UCF-managed Arecibo Observatory (pictured here in the spring of 2019) are stopped until repairs can be made from an incident in August that caused a 100-foot-long gash on the telescope’s reflector dish. The first cable slipped out of its socket on Aug. 10 at 2:45 a.m. local time. Fortunately, archival data from the telescope will be migrated to servers outside of the danger zone, continuing the tradition of research and discovery by the telescope for years to come. NY 10036. Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! The process to decommission a telescope is a complicated one. "I am so worried about it," a scientist familiar with the facility said. Friday 04 December 2020 16:16 The world-famous Arecibo Observatory has collapsed after sustaining significant damage. The observatory's helipad and well water were vital resources for those living near the facility. Observations made by the telescope helped discover the first binary pulsar in 1974 (which led to the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics), supported NASA's Viking mission, produced the first radar maps of Venus' surface and spotted the first exoplanet in 1992. Read more. No one was expecting the snap on Nov. 6 as engineers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico weighed their options for dealing with damage to the facility from a cable failure over the summer. The observatory has withstood hurricanes, earthquakes and tropical storms over the years. ", Evaluating the situation is also difficult, since reaching the suspended platform and the towers that anchor its supporting cables is dangerous. There was a problem. Damage at the Arecibo Observatory in August, 2020. Credit: NSF/NAIC. Of interest is the LIDAR geospace research facility, the visitor center and the offsite Culebra facility for analyzing precipitation and cloud cover data. Visit our corporate site. Thank you for signing up to Space. Photos of the damage make it seem particularly nasty, but Arecibo’s main reflector dish is comprised of 40,000 panels — making the overall destruction very small. While no direct cause for the breaks has been identified, corrosion is suspected as the main issue. The telescope has supported and contributed to important discoveries in radio astronomy as well as planetary and solar system research, including gravitational waves. The renowned Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, closed because of damage, completely collapsed Tuesday morning. A main cable that supports Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico broke Friday evening, compounding damage caused by a smaller cable failure in August, according to the site manager. Engineers were assessing and working on a plan to repair the damage when another main cable on the tower broke on November 6. (Image credit: University of Central Florida), (Image credit: Courtesy of the NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF), 'Greenland' offers grim take on how humanity will respond to a comet impact, Watch live @ 3 pm ET: NASA's 'Great Conjunction' guide to the Saturn-Jupiter 'Christmas Star', SpaceX aborts US spy satellite launch due to rocket booster pressure issue, Boeing reveals mission patch for second Starliner orbital flight test, Pictures from space! "But this is such a massive structure that even that gets lost in the background size of the telescope platform itself. Science operations have been suspended at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico after the radio telescope was damaged on Monday August 10. Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico suffers serious damage after cable breaks The iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has gone dark, at least for a little while. The Arecibo Observatory houses the world's second-largest radio telescope. "Until these assessments came in, our question was not if the observatory should be repaired but how. "When you have access to the towers, when you have access to the platform, there's a million ways you can remove a failed cable, hoist a new cable, things like that," Cordova said. "For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like. Arecibo was designed by a scientist at Cornell University, which operated the facility until 2011, with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the observatory's main funder. Arecibo Observatory damage: White House urged to SAVE radio telescope It had been hoped workers would be able to safely disassemble the observatory, but this has also proved to be not the case. "Certainly now with this failure, we understand that that capacity's just not there and that there has been other degradation.". Gut-Wrenching Photos Show Damage at Arecibo Observatory Following Collapse. The Arecibo Observatory, a huge and previously damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico that played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century, completely collapsed on Tuesday. Over the years, Arecibo Observatory has revealed new details about our planet's ionosphere, the solar system and worlds beyond it. What's sending mysterious repeating fast radio bursts in space? After the break on November 6, engineers inspected the rest of the cables and discovered new breaks as well as slippage from some of the sockets on the towers. Multiple engineering companies reviewed the damage. "It's quite clearly an extremely worrisome situation," Don Campbell, who began his career at Arecibo in 1965 and eventually served as the observatory's director in the 1980s, told Space.com. "I'm very much keeping all my fingers crossed that they will figure out how to stabilize the structure and get it repaired. An auxiliary cable came loose from a socket on one of the towers in August, creating a 100-foot gash in the dish. When the month ended and the earthquakes with it, Puerto Ricans celebrated the new year afresh, hoping that the worst of the year was over, Abel Mendez, a planetary astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico who regularly brings students to observe at Arecibo, told Space.com — only to face the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March. This photo shows damage caused to Arecibo Observatory in August. © ", The same is true of the damage the dish has accumulated during the incidents, he said. Outside astronomers had to wait over a week to learn that the observatory was still standing. And that is a line we cannot cross," said Ralph Gaume, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences, in a statement. In addition, several assessments stated that any attempt to make repairs could put the lives of workers in danger. The Arecibo Observatory, a vast and famous telescope that has helped map the cosmos, will be demolished. "Arecibo is still very much a telescope that is at the forefront of many areas and its loss would be tremendous," Campbell said. Staff at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are safe, but the storm destroyed a key instrument, and conditions in surrounding towns are still unknown. An engineering survey found the damage to the observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff. The Arecibo Observatory, also known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), is an observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico owned by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).. But for the observatory, things would only get worse. You will receive a verification email shortly. Updated 2:20 PM ET, Thu November 19, 2020. "You don't see a whole lot of difference when you look at the platform — certainly you do see a couple of extra cables that are hanging down that shouldn't be, they should really be pointing up, and they're pointing down," Cordova said. An auxiliary cable came loose from a socket on one of the towers in August, creating a 100-foot gash in the dish. This will allow the observatory to serve as a hub for research and education in the future. Famed Arecibo Observatory suffers more damage as 900-ton platform falls The telescope, star of a James Bond movie, was set to be decommissioned despite a petition to save it. 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