The iconic Arecibo Observatory to be demolished due to safety concerns

Broken Arecibo telescope

Broken Arecibo telescope

In August, one of these cables slipped and fell onto the dish below, resulting in a "gash" in the dish about 30 m long, having ripped off its reflective panels. The Observatory is therefore working on plans for dismantling the giant instrument while temporarily closing other site installations and moving equipment that might be destroyed if the telescope falls apart catastrophically. Since its inception, the telescope has been upgraded several times over the years allowing scientists to make some remarkable discoveries.

As soon as such a warning was received by the safety experts, the authorities made a decision to demolish the structure shortly.

Engineers had been examining the structure since August when one of its support cables snapped. The Arecibo Observatory In Puerto Rico, the home of an epic telescopic bowl, saying goodbye.

The NSF reviewed multiple assessments by independent engineering companies and concluded that the telescope structure was "in danger of a catastrophic failure" and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were created to support.

NSF's primary engineering firm said it should be decommissioned, and a review of the assessment by two additional engineering firms concluded any attempt to make repairs would pose a threat to human life, the release states. "A controlled decommissioning gives us the opportunity to preserve valuable assets that the observatory has".

"The telescope is at serious risk of an unexpected, uncontrolled collapse", said Ralph Gaume, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences.

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"For almost six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like", Panchanathan said.

Most notable was its discovery of the first binary pulsar, B1913+16 in 1974. While the observatory will soon cease to exist, its interplanetary message will live on - as will the memories of its use in astronomers' archives.

The independent, federal-funded company said operating a single-dish radio telescope was too risky - and one of the largest in the world - that it had suffered significant damage recently.

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan expressed regret about what he called "a profound change", and said the observatory will explore ways to assist the scientific community and maintain its strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico. Scientists worldwide have used the dish along with the 900-ton platform hanging 450 feet above it to track asteroids on a path to Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and determine if a planet is potentially habitable.

Although the radio dish will be decommissioned, its visitor center and offsite Culebra facility, which analyses cloud cover and precipitation data, as well as the Observatory's LIDAR facility will remain operational, say NSF. The officials said that this meant a lot to the community of Puerto Rico and they will miss it a lot in future.

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