#astronomy The Arecibo Telescope Has Collapsed – Sky & Telescope

December 2, 2020 - Comment

This aerial view exhibits the injury on the Arecibo Observatory after the 900-ton platform fell 140 meters (450 toes), taking the supporting cables with it, and smashing onto the radio dish under. Picture by Ricardo Arduengo / AFP by way of Getty Pictures Astronomers knew the clock was ticking for the enduring Arecibo radio telescope


Arecibo damageThis aerial view exhibits the injury on the Arecibo Observatory after the 900-ton platform fell 140 meters (450 toes), taking the supporting cables with it, and smashing onto the radio dish under.
Picture by Ricardo Arduengo / AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Astronomers knew the clock was ticking for the enduring Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Engineers had pronounced the second-largest radio dish on the planet to be getting ready to collapse and too harmful to attempt to restore.

At 7:55 a.m. native time on December 1st, that ticking clock struck midnight. The Nationwide Science Basis is reporting that the 900-ton platform, suspended over the dish by way of a number of cables to a few help towers, has fallen.

Arecibo damageThe 900-ton platform suspended above Arecibo got here crashing down on December 1st, damaging the dish and surrounding amenities.
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It crashed into the dish and broken surrounding amenities, ending any hopes of a extra managed decommissioning. No accidents have been reported because of the collapse.

The instrument platform of the 305m telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico fell in a single day. No accidents have been reported. NSF is working with stakeholders to evaluate the state of affairs. Our prime precedence is sustaining security. NSF will launch extra particulars when they’re confirmed. pic.twitter.com/Xjbb9hPUgD

— Nationwide Science Basis (@NSF) December 1, 2020

Employees member Jonathan Friedman, who lives close to the telescope, reported to the Related Press that he heard the collapse as a rumble. When he ran to a hill overlooking the pure sinkhole that’s residence to the huge 305-meter radio dish, he may see the mud cloud developing from the collapsed construction.

Twitter consumer Deborah Martorell shared a photograph of the collapse from afar:

Amigos es con profundo pesar comunicarles que acaba de colapsar la plataforma del Observatorio de Arecibo. pic.twitter.com/stJScy2Old

— Deborah Martorell (@DeborahTiempo) December 1, 2020

The collapse follows two cable failures inside 4 months. First, a help cable wrenched out of its socket on August 10th, then a essential cable snapped on November sixth. Two weeks later, the NSF introduced that it might dismantle the telescope, whereas nonetheless supporting different onsite amenities, such because the LIDAR facility for geospace analysis. Whereas engineers had assessed the construction after the primary cable failure and substitute elements have been on order, the second failure urged the system may collapse at any time. Every cable is eight.25 centimeters thick and made from 160 wires, however drone footage of the remaining cables to that tower confirmed particular person wires have been breaking each day.  

A preliminary evaluation of the collapse signifies that the highest part of all three of the help towers broke off. Then because the platform fell, the help cables additionally dropped. The falling cables appear to have considerably broken the observatory’s studying heart.

The platform that collapsed was unique to the 1960s development however grew to become considerably heavier within the 1990s, when new devices have been added. That improve — together with a Gregorian reflector system to assist focus radio alerts and a strong radar transmitter — made Arecibo the powerhouse radio observatory and radar facility it was till this previous August. The improve additionally warranted extra help cables, and it was one in every of these help cables that got here out of its socket in August. “[It] mustn’t have failed the best way it did,” says Ashley Zauderer (NSF). “The workforce is wanting very intently at why that occurred.”

“Our focus is now on assessing the injury, discovering methods to revive operations at different elements of the observatory, and dealing to proceed supporting the scientific group, and the folks of Puerto Rico,” says NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan. Engineers and environmental staff are already arriving on the web site to appraise the state of affairs and start repairs to the opposite onsite amenities.

Learn extra concerning the impression of the observatory’s loss on the astronomy group and on Puerto Rico: “Iconic Arecibo Telescope Broken, To Be Dismantled.”

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