Giant Arecibo telescope to be demolished, a blow to world astronomy

It’s a torrent of sadness and nostalgia that poured into Twitter from amateur and professional astronomers, under the hashtag #WhatAreciboMeansToMe (“What Arecibo Means To Me”), which for many decades, have used the telescope for their work of observing the cosmos.

After fifty-seven years of loyal service, the famous Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, which threatens to collapse after the rupture of two support cables, will be dismantled, announced Thursday, November 19, the Foundation. National Science Institute. A blow to world astronomy.

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Two cables supporting the 900-ton telescope instruments above the 305-meter-diameter parabola broke on August 10 and November 6. Engineers are concerned that the other cables connecting the three-turn instruments will also break at any time, making any attempt at repair excessively dangerous.

A tool for many astronomical discoveries, the telescope is one of the largest in the world. Priority is given “For the safety of workers, staff and visitors to the Arecibo observatory, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate”said National Science Foundation director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

“The reason why I do astronomy”

“More than a telescope, Arecibo is the very reason why I do astronomy”, testified Kevin Ortiz Ceballos, a local astronomer. “I’m disappointed, my heart is broken”, tweeted Karen Masters, professor of astronomy at Haverford College, Pa., adding a photo of herself posing with her baby near the satellite dish in 2008.

An action scene from the James Bond film GoldenEye takes place above the telescope and, in the film Contact, an astronomer played by Jodie Foster uses the observatory in her quest for extraterrestrial signals.

The engineering company that examined the structure concluded that the remaining cables were arguably weaker than expected and recommended a “Controlled demolition”. The Foundation accepted.

Read also The hunt for mysterious cosmic radio waves pays off

The World with AFP

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