A huge American space telescope deep inside the Puerto Rican jungle will be shut down after experiencing two catastrophic crashes in recent months, ending 57 years of astronomical research.
Operations were halted at the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest, in August when an aided cable fell loose from its socket and plunged into a 30-meter (100-foot) hole in its 305-meter-wide (1,000-foot) hole. Reflector dish.
Then earlier this month, another cable broke, a new hole was drilled in the bowl, and nearby cables were damaged as engineers scrambled to devise a plan to secure the crumbling structure.
Accidents at the site – known as the setting for the James Bond film GoldenEye, as well as contact actor Jody Foster – asked the independent government agency, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), to call on the facility.
Sean Jones, assistant director of the NSF’s Directorate of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said Thursday, “The NSF has concluded that this latest damage to the 305-meter telescope will not endanger the lives and safety of the crew and personnel without compromising Can’t be
“The NSF has decided to begin the process of planning for controlled denominations,” Jones said.
An NSF spokesman said engineers had not yet determined the cause of the initial cable failure.
The Observatory’s giant reflector dish and the 816-ton, 137-meter-high 816-ton hanger, located in the moist forests of Arecibo, Puerto RicoHas been used by scientists and astronomers around the world for decades to analyze distant planets, find potentially dangerous stars, and search for signatures of extraterrestrial life.
The telescope was instrumental in locating the nearest stellar planet to Earth in 1999, which sent NASA to send a robotic probe there and finally returned its first straw dust sample nearly two decades later.
An engineering firm hired by the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory for the NSF under a five-year, 20 million deal, concluded in a report to the university last week that “if another major cable fails. If so, an emergency collapse will occur entirely. The structure will come soon “.
Citing safety concerns, the firm rejected attempts to repair the observatory and recommended a controlled dem.