Arecibo Telescope, star of the world of astronomy, to be dismantled
The renowned Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico will be dismantled after 57 years of service due to broken cables that have led to the threat of collapse, the United States National Science Foundation announced Thursday.
Two cables supporting the 900 ton instruments for the telescope over a 1,000-foot (305-meter) diameter satellite dish broke on August 10 and November 6.
Engineers are concerned other cables could also break at any time, making any repair attempt excessively dangerous.
The telescope is one of the largest in the world and has been a tool for many astronomical discoveries.
The foundation “prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, albeit unfortunate,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.
“For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory it has served as a beacon for revolutionary science and how a partnership with a community can be. ”
With the hashtag “WhatAreciboMeansToMe”, messages of sadness about the news were spread on Twitter of professional and amateur astronomers who have used the telescope for their work observing the cosmos for decades.
“More than a telescope, Arecibo is the reason I’m even into astronomy,” local astronomer Kevin Ortiz Ceballos wrote on Twitter.
Karen Masters, a professor of astrophysics at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, posted a photo of herself and her young daughter near the satellite dish in 2008 and said she was “heartbroken and disappointed.”
An action scene from the James bond The movie GoldenEye takes place over the telescope, and in the movie Contact, an astronomer played by Jodie Foster uses the observatory in her search for alien signals.
The engineering firm that examined the structure concluded that the remaining cables were possibly weaker than expected and recommended a controlled demolition, which the foundation agreed to.