Facing collapse, the famed Arecibo Observatory will be demolished

Facing collapse, the famed Arecibo Observatory will be demolished

The failure of two main cables sealed the observatory’s fate

By Loren Grush

The world-famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, known for helping scientists peer into deep space and listen for distant radio waves, is set to be decommissioned and demolished after engineers concluded that the facility’s structure is at risk of a collapse. While teams will try to salvage some parts of the observatory, the decommissioning will bring an end to the popular 57-year-old telescope, which has been featured in numerous films and television shows.

Damage caused by the failure of the first auxiliary cable in August 
Image: UCF

The decision comes after two major cables failed at the facility within the last few months, causing significant damage to the observatory. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which oversees Arecibo, assessed the impact of the cable breaks, and found that the facility’s other cables could also fail soon. If some of the remaining cables break, engineers fear that the 900-ton suspended platform above the facility could come crashing down on Arecibo’s iconic 1,000-foot-wide dish. It’s also possible that three surrounding towers, which stand at more than 300 feet tall, could topple over in any direction, potentially hitting the visitor’s center or other important nearby buildings….READ FULL ARTICLE

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