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#astronomy One other Cable Snaps on the Arecibo Observatory – Sky & Telescope

November 16, 2020 - Comment

Arecibo from the Spring of 2018. UCF / Arecibo / NSF The Arecibo radio observatory has had a tough time of it prior to now few years. The latest incident occurred on Friday, November sixth, at 7:39 p.m. native time, when a second assist cable broke. In contrast to the primary cable failure on August


Arecibo radio dishArecibo from the Spring of 2018.
UCF / Arecibo / NSF

The Arecibo radio observatory has had a tough time of it prior to now few years.

The latest incident occurred on Friday, November sixth, at 7:39 p.m. native time, when a second assist cable broke. In contrast to the primary cable failure on August 10th, this one didn’t slip out of its assist socket. Each cables have been, nevertheless, affixed to the identical assist tower. The failure additionally broken a number of close by cables and the primary dish under. Nobody was injured within the incident. Engineers are onsite this week, assessing the harm and how finest to maneuver ahead.

“That is definitely not what we wished to see, however the essential factor is that nobody received damage,” stated director Francisco Cordova in a latest press launch. “We’ve got been considerate in our analysis and prioritized security in planning for repairs that have been supposed to start Tuesday. We’re evaluating the scenario with our consultants and hope to have extra to share quickly.”

At this level, the group has not recognized a transparent cause for the failure, but it surely’s suspected that the primary cable failure put further pressure on the remaining assist cables. The group is utilizing distant cameras and drones to evaluate the present state of the construction.

Arecibo is at present managed by the College of Central Florida in partnership with the Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises below the auspices of the U.S. Nationwide Science Basis, which is able to fund the observatory till not less than 2023.

Harm from the primary cable fall in August
UCF / NSF

The present technique is for the group to put in non permanent metal reinforcements, which is able to relieve among the pressure on the construction. Two three-inch-thick alternative cables are at present on order.

Many of the auxiliary cables and the steerable Gregorian dome have been added throughout an improve to the ability in 1997 and have been anticipated to final 50 years. New observations at Arecibo got here to a halt in August when the primary cable got here down. The group is however pushing forward with new analysis by going via information collected by the dish throughout earlier observations.

Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, imaged by Arecibo in 2017
Arecibo / NASA / NSF

Arecibo: Previous & Future

Constructed over a big pure sinkhole, the partially steerable, 1,001-foot (305-meter) radio dish began radio observations in 1963 and was the most important filled-aperture radio telescope on the earth till China introduced the 5-hundred meter Aperture, Spherical Telescope antenna on-line in 2016. Arecibo has been used to ping near-Earth asteroids, map out pulsars and extra-galactic radio sources, and seek for and ship SETI indicators. The power can be used for radar and atmospheric observations. The radio observatory even turns up within the motion pictures Golden Eye and Contact.

The Arecibo message was despatched in the direction of the globular cluster Messier 13 in 1974.
SETI / NSF

In over a half century of operation, Arecibo has weathered monetary woes, survived a direct hit from Hurricane Maria in 2017, and even skilled earthquakes.

Actually, the failure of a second cable just isn’t excellent news, however with a bit of luck, the group can assess the harm this week, and the historic observatory can quickly see “radio gentle” as soon as once more.

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