Work Begins on Cleaning up Arecibo. The job Could Cost $50 Million

The collapse of Arecibo’s radio telescope was a devastating blow to the radio astronomy community.  On December 1st, the suspended instrument platform came crashing down, destroying a large part of the receiver dish and the towers supporting the platform, as well as causing minor damage to some outlying buildings.  Now the National Science Foundation (NSF), the government agency responsible for operating Arecibo is starting to pick up the pieces to figure out what’s next for the site, as they detailed in a brief report to Congress recently.

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Arecibo’s Damage is so Serious and Dangerous, They’re Just Going to Scrap the Observatory Entirely

This past summer, the Arecibo Observatory suffered major damage when an auxiliary cable that supports the platform above the telescope broke and struck the reflector dish. Immediately thereafter, technicians with the observatory and the University of Central Florida (UCF) began working to stabilize the structure and assess the damage. Unfortunately, about two weeks ago (on Nov. 6th), a second cable broke causing even more damage.

Following a thorough review, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the observatory cannot be stabilized without risking the lives of construction workers and staff at the facility. As such, after 57 years of faithful service and countless contributions to multiple fields of astronomy, the NSF has decided to commence plans for decommissioning the Arecibo Observatory.

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