The collapse of the Arecibo telescope, ending 57 years | Science

The second cable on November 7 tore through the dish plates of the Arecibo telescope and brought the instrument’s suspended platform to the point of collapsing.

Arecibo Observatory / University of Central Florida

Written by Eric Hand

Arecibo went observatory. Ramon Lugo, director of the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida, which manages the site, said its 900-tonne instrument platform, suspended above a plate in the karst hills of Puerto Rico, collapsed this morning, around 8 a.m. local time. A 57-year-old radio telescope for the National Science Foundation (NSF). On November 19, NSF decided to shut down the observatory after two cable outages that brought the platform to the brink of collapse. But in the end, he couldn’t survive long enough for a doomed demolition.

“I feel sick in my stomach,” says Logo, fending off his tears. “Honestly, there has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people trying to restore this facility. It’s disappointing that we weren’t successful. It’s really a difficult morning.”

Logo says there was no one near the plate when the platform fell. But he did not have all the details about how the structure collapsed. He believes this was due to the failure of one of the remaining cables connecting the platform to one of the three support towers. These cables were carrying extra stress after the previous two failures. Since the Thanksgiving holiday, Lugo says, these remaining cables have been broken at a rate of about one per day. He says he told NSF the structure only had a week or two left before it collapsed.

Lugo says engineers will examine the condition of the three supporting towers today and see if they can assemble how they collapse. He is concerned about the 130 members of the observatory and their future. “I can’t imagine how they feel,” he says.

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