Arecibo observatory badly damaged by a broken wire rope

The world-famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has been badly damaged by a broken wire. Photos of the facility show the considerable incision in the huge main mirror of the radio telescope. According to those responsible, it is 100 feet long, i.e. about 30 meters. Experts are now to determine how large the damage is overall and how extensive the necessary repair work will be. The installations above the mirror, including the so-called Gregory Cathedral, were also hit by the rope. People were not harmed.

CC BY-SA 4.0

One of these cables is probably broken. You can also see the Gregory Cathedral in the picture, which was also damaged.

(Image: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), CC BY-SA 4.0)

A short one According to a communication from the University of Central Florida, which is responsible for the management of the instrument, the incident happened on Monday night. It was therefore one of the wire ropes that secure the platform above the main mirror, which is more than 300 meters in diameter. There was also damage there, but in view of the photo of the destruction, the damage to the mirror itself seems to be significantly greater. The telescope is currently out of order and the safety of personnel is a priority. Why the rope broke is unclear. The repairs should be made as soon as possible.

The gigantic Arecibo Observatory was completed in 1963 and was the largest radio telescope in the world for decades. In 2016 it was overhauled by the Chinese radio telescope FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope). The Arecibo Telescope and its monumental architecture have become world famous not only for their scientific importance, but also for their appearances as a backdrop in films such as James Bond 007 – GoldenEye and the X Files. A few years ago it was about to end, but it could be saved. Those responsible now remind people that it has already withstood many hurricanes and earthquakes, and that damage caused by the devastating Hurricane Maria is currently being repaired.


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