Agence France-PresseDec 02, 2020 11:10:33 IST
The celebrated Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico, which as soon as starred in a James Bond movie, collapsed Tuesday when its 900-ton receiver platform plunged 450 ft (140 meters) onto the radio dish beneath.
Engineers had lately warned of the massive construction’s decrepit situation, and the US Nationwide Science Basis (NSF) introduced solely final month that it will be dismantled.
Two of the cables that held the platform over the radio dish — which measures 1,000 ft (300 meters) in diameter — had snapped this yr, and the construction lastly gave manner on Tuesday morning.
Images confirmed clouds of mud rising into the air and the stays of the telescope devices scattered throughout the location.
“We will affirm the platform fell and that we now have experiences of no accidents,” Rob Margetta, spokesman for the NSF, advised AFP.
The telescope was one of many largest on this planet and has been a software for a lot of astronomical discoveries because the Sixties, in addition to being well-known for its dramatic scale and setting.
An motion scene from the Bond movie “GoldenEye” that includes Pierce Brosnan happened excessive above the dish, and in “Contact,” an astronomer performed by Jodie Foster used the observatory in her quest for alien alerts.
Unhappy day for astronomy
Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory on the College of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, stated the platform fell someday earlier than 8:00 am (1200 GMT), describing it as “a complete catastrophe.”
“Many college students are skilled in astronomy within the observatory, they’re impressed like me to do a profession in science and astronomy,” he stated.
“The lack of the Arecibo telescope is an enormous loss for the world, however it’s extra of a loss for Puerto Rico. It’s an icon for our island.”
The telescope was in operation for 57 years till August, and scientists had lobbied the NSF to reverse its choice to shut the location.
Additionally learn: Puerto Rican telescope Arecibo Observatory is falling aside inflicting scientists to fret about their analysis
In August, an auxiliary cable failed after slipping from its socket in one of many towers and left a 100-foot gash within the dish beneath.
Engineers had been assessing the harm and find out how to restore it when a fundamental cable linked to the identical tower broke on 6 November.
Earlier than Tuesday, a managed demolition had been deliberate to keep away from an sudden collapse.
Among the many telescope’s successes was in 1992 discovering the primary exoplanet — a planet exterior the photo voltaic system — and in 1981 it helped produce the primary radar maps of the floor of Venus.
The observatory’s web site stated the telescope was “a world-leading radio astronomy, photo voltaic system radar and atmospheric physics facility, contributing extremely related information to assist discovery, innovation and the development of science.”
“What a tragic day for Astronomy and Planetary science worldwide and one of the vital iconic telescopes of all time,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator on the NASA science mission directorate.
The positioning had hoped the dismantling plan would protect different elements of the observatory for future analysis and training.
“As we transfer ahead, we shall be searching for methods to help the scientific group and preserve our sturdy relationship with the individuals of Puerto Rico,” the NSF stated in a tweet.
Additionally Learn: Restore work for Arecibo telescope too harmful shall be dismantled after 57 years of service