Iconic Arecibo Observatory telescope collapses


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A huge radio telescope in Puerto Rico has collapsed after decades of astronomical discoveries.


The US National Science Foundation (NSF) said the telescope's 900-ton instrument platform fell onto a reflector dish some 450ft (137m) below.


It came just weeks after officials announced that the telescope would be dismantled amid safety fears, following damage to its support system.


The Arecibo Observatory telescope was one of the largest in the world.


It was a key scientific resource for radio astronomers for 57 years, and was also made famous as the backdrop for a scene in the James Bond film GoldenEye and other Hollywood films.


The NSF said there had been no reports of injuries following the collapse.



Sad day for science... :(


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Really sad day :(


Last I heard they were going to decommission Arecibo being the risk to the construction workers was too great to repair the telescope after the second cable snapped, which was I sad when that was announced.

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Might be a slight blessing it fell on its own considering they were going to dismantle it anyway (after the cables started snapping this year).  Believe I read that the learning center received damage from the falling cables ... but no injuries.  There is still an operational radio telescope and a Lidar facility there ... hopefully this doesn't cost too many jobs.


Sucks for science ... sucks that years of inadequate funding/maintenance led to this...

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2 hours ago, anthdci said:

I'd love to see them rebuild it better, but I suspect that won't be happening. 


NAsA is exploring their options.


In terms of resolution Goldstone has an edge over Arecibo, but the latter's use as a radar was more powerful.


One option being explored is a collaboration with the US Space Force, which wants to build a large system for tracking objects and debris in cis-lunar space; CHIPS (Cislunar HIghway Patrol System), taking on the role of a space  "Coast Guard." Also small space stations in cis-lunar orbits, optionally manned for research or as an emergency refuge, etc.


The US Air Force Research Laboratory is also interested in cis-lunar space.



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On 02/12/2020 at 12:28, warwagon said:

I want to see security cam footage of it collapsing. 

Video in the link, https://www.theverge.com/22150330/arecibo-observatory-collapse-drone-footage-video



Some more,


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  • 1 month later...

Sounds like Arecibo 2 will be a phased array...






Arecibo replacement could support space situational awareness


WASHINGTON — A proposal to replace the giant radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico with a new facility suggests it could be used for tracking space objects as well as for scientific research.


Plans for a potential replacement of the 305-meter radio telescope at Arecibo, whose observing platform collapsed Dec. 1, are still in their early phases. One proposal, developed by observatory staff and submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in a recent white paper, calls for replacing the giant dish with an array of up to 1,000 small dishes, each nine meters across, on a platform spanning the current dish.


“As we move into the future, we feel that phased arrays are probably the right way to go, rather than continue to focus on large single-dish elements,” said Francisco Cordova, director of Arecibo Observatory, during a presentation at a Jan. 21 meeting of a committee supporting the ongoing planetary science decadal survey by the National Academies.


The concept in the white paper would double the sensitivity of the single-dish radio telescope and increase sky coverage by 250% compared to the fixed dish, as well as incorporate a new radar system. “From our perspective as the operator, we feel that the 305-meter was really an invaluable tool,” he said. “But, any future visions of the site really need to be centered around the development of a next-generation instrument.”




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