Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope collapses; many mourning

Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope collapses; many mourning

The feared but expected collapse of the famed Arecibo radio telescope, in the USA territory of Puerto Rico, happened just before 08:00 Tuesday local time (just before 14:00 South African time). The catastrophic failure had been predicted by engineers after the telescope suffered two major cable malfunctions over the last couple of months, risking the integrity of the observatory's entire structure. An auxiliary cable snapped in August, causing a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide dish and damaging the receiver platform that hung above it.

No injuries were reported as a result of the collapse.

The NSF recently decided that the observatory was too storm-damaged to save. These studies were still under way when, early in November, a main cable, connected to the same tower, broke, inflicting more damage on the dish.

After one of the telescope's main steel cables, that was capable of sustaining 544,000 kilograms, snapped it was chose to decommission the telescope. Atmospheric engineer companies are standing by to start working with any potential climate impact due to the collapse. "NSF will release more details when they are confirmed".

"There were a series of options that could've been put in place at a certain time if the decision would have been taken relatively fast", the observatory director said during a press conference.

Some took to social media sharing messages of what the observatory meant to them.

"There's been statements in the media that, 'Oh we have other systems that can kind of replace what Arecibo is doing, ' and I don't think that's true", said Anne Virkki, the leader of the planetary radar team in the observatory.

The Verge reported, that those predictions became reality, as photos surfacing online this morning, showed the absence of the massive 900-ton platform that is normally suspended above the observatory.

In August, one of the 305-metre telescope's cables unexpectedly detached, however it was thought the remaining cables would be able to bear the load.

The telescope was one of the largest in the world and has been a tool for many astronomical discoveries since the 1960s, as well as being famous for its dramatic scale and setting.

"It represents half of my professional life". The National Science Foundation said at the time that it meant to eventually reopen the visitor center and restore operations at the observatory's remaining assets, including its two LIDAR facilities used for upper atmospheric and ionospheric research, such as analyzing cloud cover and precipitation data. According to the initial findings, the top sections of all three towers holding up the platform broke away and the structure fell after that, CNN reports.

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