Thursday, December 03, 2020

Arecibo Collapse: When It Was Built, It Was Only Intended For A Decade Of Use..,

space |  After two cable failures in the span of four months, Puerto Rico's most venerable astronomy facility, the Arecibo radio telescope, has collapsed in an uncontrolled structural failure.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, decided in November to proceed with decommissioning the telescope in response to the damage, which engineers deemed too severe to stabilize without risking lives. But the NSF needed time to come up with a plan for how to safely demolish the telescope in a controlled manner.

Instead, gravity did the job this morning (Dec. 1) at about 8 a.m. local time, according to reports from the area.

"NSF is saddened by this development," the agency wrote in a tweet. "As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."

The NSF added that no injuries had been reported, that the top priority was to maintain safety and that more details would be provided when confirmed.

"What a sad day for Astronomy and Planetary science worldwide and one of the most iconic telescopes of all time," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, wrote in a tweet. "My thoughts are with the staff members and scientists who have continued to do great science during the past years and whose life is directly affected by this."

Images shared on Twitter by Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist for Puerto Rican television stations, compare views of the observatory taken yesterday — showing the 900-ton science platform suspended over the massive dish strung up on cables — and today, when the observatory's three supporting towers are bare.