Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hurricane Damaged Arecibo....,

NationalGeographic |  Great news! [Princeton University professor] Joe Taylor talked to Angel Vazquez, who made contact with the observatory via ham radio. Everybody there is safe and sound,” reported Arecibo deputy director Joan Schmelz

However, it’s not yet clear how staff who weathered the storm in town are doing, or what conditions are like for local communities. Reports suggest that the road up to the facility is covered in debris and is largely inaccessible. 
Still, according to the National Science Foundation, which funds the majority of the telescope’s operations, the observatory is well stocked with food, well water, and fuel for generators. As of Thursday night, there are enough supplies for the staff hunkered down there to survive for at least a week, although Vazquez reports that it’s not clear how long the generators will be working.
“As soon as the roads are physically passable, a team will try to get up to the observatory,” the NSF statement says.
Because of its deep water well and generator, the observatory has been a place for those in nearby towns to gather, shower, and cook after past hurricanes. It also has an on-site helicopter landing pad, so making sure the facility is safe in general is not just of scientific importance, but is also relevant for local relief efforts.

Built in 1963, the Arecibo Observatory has become a cultural icon, known both for its size and for its science. For most of its 54-year existence, Arecibo was the largest radio telescope in the world, but in 2016, a Chinese telescope called FAST—with a dish measuring 1,600 feet across—surpassed Arecibo in size, although it’s not yet fully operational.
The observatory was originally designed for national defense during the Cold War, when the U.S. wanted to see if it could detect Soviet satellites (and maybe missiles and bombs) based on how they alter the portion of Earth’s atmosphere called the ionosphere. Later, the telescope became instrumental in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) programs and in other aspects of radio astronomy.