Dramatic video shows the collapse at the iconic Arecibo Observatory

Dramatic video shows the collapse at the iconic Arecibo Observatory

The drama video released on Thursday shows the catastrophic failure of a support cable followed by a 450-foot plunging of the 900-ton mesh-like instrument platform on the iconic radio telescope’s giant dish antenna.

Already Preparing for dem now After two old cables failed, all of a sudden Collapse on December 1 Marked the end of the road for an observatory that was once the largest facility in the world.

Ralph Gomez, director of astronomy at the National Science Foundation, said: “I want to say how deeply sad we are here. “And the NSF is very grateful that no one was hurt. As you know, security has always been and is our priority.”

The National Science Foundation, which runs the Arecibo Observatory through the University of Central Florida, unveiled a video of the collapse on Thursday during a zoom update with reporters.

One view, from a camera mounted on the roof of the Observatory’s control center, showed the above platform crashing to the ground, as well as two concrete cable support towers at the top, 60 feet high, which were torn. Another view came from a drone located just above Sport Tower 4 where 10 cables and two cables failed on November 6.

As the drone’s camera saw, another support cable came off and suddenly jumped. After a moment, 45 stories started falling towards the dish under the support platform. The drone operator was able to turn on the camera in time to capture the moment of impact and the failures of the other two support towers.

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“You can see the platform suspended in the middle of the screen, you can see that in the distance, to the left of the center, is Tower 4,” said Joan Abruzzo, manager of Thornton TomSatty, an engineering company assessing the assessment. For collapse.

“You can see, I hope, the cables that go from the top of Tower 4 to the platform … and so these are the cables that fail near the top of the tower. And once they fail. On the go, the platform then loses stability and starts. To come down. “

The Arecibo Observatory was made up of a fixed 1000-foot dish antenna in natural depression that reflects a radio wave or radar beam suspended by cables extending from three support towers 450 feet high to the receiving array. .

While the bowls rotated automatically around the Earth, the device’s platform featured a stereo receiver palette that allowed astronomers to see targets 40 degrees away from the telescope’s vertical axis.

Has been in operation for over half a century The Observatory played an important role Creation and behavior of the Earth’s upper atmosphere Using powerful lasers to observe deep space targets, corpses in the solar system, and a nearby facility.

A single-view view of the Arecibo Observatory’s 900-ton instrument platform suspended 45 stories above the radio telescope’s 1,000-foot-wide dish antenna.

National Science Foundation / University of Central Florida

But on August 10, an auxiliary cable pulled empty from its socket at Sport Tower 4 and crashed into a dish below, ripping through a 100-foot-long gasket. Engineers were developing repair plans when one of the main 3-inch-wide support cables attached to the same tower suddenly collapsed on November 6.

Due to pressure on the rest of the cables, the engineers concluded that the system could not be repaired properly and the NSF announced on November 19 that monitoring would be stopped.

“We knew it was just a matter of time,” Abruzzo said. “And it was a very dangerous and obscure situation, because (the rest of the cable) could really go at any time.”

Engineers were evaluating how to perform a controlled operation by lowering the instrument platform when a third cable slipped.

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