Terrifying footage shows collapse of Arecibo Observatory’s massive radio telescope

It took 17 seconds for Arecibo Observatory’s massive radio telescope to crumble. It will take much longer for the dust to settle.

The iconic structure in Puerto Rico collapsed on Dec. 1 after cable failures in August and November made the telescope too delicate to safely repair. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, knew that the structure could fall any time and was evaluating how to go about decommissioning the telescope. Now, the agency has shifted to evaluating what to do with its wreckage.

“We’re in the assessment phase,” Ralph Gaume, director of NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, said during a news conference held today (Dec. 3).

Related: Losing Arecibo Observatory creates a hole that can’t be filled

He said that the University of Central Florida, which operates the site for the NSF, has hired a clean-up contractor who arrived at the telescope yesterday. “They’re

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See unreal drone footage of Arecibo Observatory’s catastrophic collapse

Remarkable video footage of the Arecibo Observatory’s 900-ton platform falling into the 1,000-foot wide dish below was released Thursday by the National Science Foundation. A drone happened to be performing an up-close investigation of the cables that still held the platform above the dish as the cables snapped Tuesday.

The video of the massive radio telescope shows both the drone footage and the view from a camera in the visitor center that shows the platform falling into the dish just above the jungle floor in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Two massive chunks of the cement towers that the cables were attached to can also be seen falling.

Two of the cables had previously broken, one in August and another in November, destabilizing the telescope.

A drone was inspecting the site atop one of the towers, where

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Massive Arecibo Telescope Collapses in Puerto Rico | Smart News

On Tuesday, the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed, ending its nearly 60 years of operation, reports Dánica Coto for the Associated Press (AP).

The collapse saw a 900-ton equipment platform fall from more than 400 feet up and crash into the northern part of the telescope’s 1,000-foot-wide dish, per the AP. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the facility, announced that no injuries have been reported.

This final death knell for Arecibo’s telescope, which tracked asteroids approaching Earth and searched the heavens for habitable planets, followed other serious damages to the massive

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Puerto Rican scientists, shattered by collapse of Arecibo Observatory, push to rebuild

Génesis Ferrer had dreamed of working in the Arecibo Observatory ever since she first met some of its astrophysicists during a high school trip in Puerto Rico.

After hearing them use terms such as “radiation” and “emission,” Ferrer, 21, said she “just fell in love with the entire idea of being able to understand things so far away.” Like many scientists in the U.S. territory, Ferrer can trace back her interest in astrophysics, biophysics and space to that school trip.

The fourth-year physics student from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, had recently earned a fellowship from the Puerto Rico NASA Space Consortium to study emissions from red dwarf stars using the giant radio telescope in Arecibo. Because of coronavirus restrictions, Ferrer has been accessing the data she needs from the Arecibo Observatory remotely, hoping she would soon be able to finish her investigation in the place where

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Remembering The Collapsed Arecibo Observatory’s Famous Video Game Level

To scientists and society at large, the collapse of the famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is a human tragedy, the loss of a powerful tool for space observation and an incredible monument to human capability. For children of a certain era, however, it’s impossible not to look at those wide shots of the platform above the giant dish and not remember Goldeneye 007.

Goldeneye 007 was a foundational first-person shooter on N64, with a kind of

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Arecibo Has Fallen Down. A Writer Looks Back.

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

In my years as a journalist I’ve had the opportunity to crawl around in all sorts of forbidden high-tech environments: underground at CERN, giant water tanks in Houston where they trained the space shuttle and International Space Station astronauts, observatories where the ghosts of famous astronomers lurked in the perpetual twilight of telescope domes. I watched them build the space shuttle and then retire it, and saw them almost abandon the Hubble Space Telescope. Don’t ask me about the Superconducting Super Collider.

On Tuesday we learned that one of astronomy’s greatest sites had fallen. That would be the Arecibo telescope, technically known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, in Puerto Rico. Its 1,000-foot-wide antenna had been used by scientists studying the cosmos, the atmosphere and dangerous asteroids, and was

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After Arecibo, NASA isn’t sure what comes next for planetary radar

Arecibo Observatory’s massive radio telescope has collapsed; with it has gone a crucial tool in understanding asteroid risks to Earth — and it would take a serious government initiative to replace.



a bridge over a body of water: An image shows the catwalk astronomers used to reach the science equipment, including a radar transmitter, suspended over the massive radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory.


© Provided by Space
An image shows the catwalk astronomers used to reach the science equipment, including a radar transmitter, suspended over the massive radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory.

Before the facility sustained irreversible damage in a series of cable failures this year, Arecibo Observatory was Earth’s most powerful planetary radar system. Astronomers can’t use radar to discover new asteroids, but the data that these systems provide can give scientists the details about an object’s size, shape and location they need to better and more quickly evaluate the threat that individual asteroids might pose to Earth. 

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“This is a hard thing to have to take [down] an iconic facility like this that’s provided so much for the

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Iconic Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico collapses before plans to demolish

Scientists, students and Puerto Ricans are among those mourning the collapse of the iconic radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.



a view of a stone wall: The Arecibo Observatory is seen collapsed after one of the main cables holding the structure broke in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 1, 2020.


© Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images
The Arecibo Observatory is seen collapsed after one of the main cables holding the structure broke in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 1, 2020.

The telescope collapsed Tuesday morning after showing signs of extreme weakness. The radio-telescope had already suffered major damages after a cable that helped support the 900-ton platform hanging at 450 feet above the dish broke in August. Weeks later, a second cable gave in, putting the telescope at greater risk.

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Initial findings show that the top of all three support towers holding the platform ripped, dropping the instrument to the 1,000-foot-wide reflector dish, according to the National Science Foundation.

MORE: Scientists, students demand action to keep Arecibo radio telescope operating

The NSF said no injuries were reported. The

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The Arecibo radio telescope’s massive hanging platform has collapsed



An archive image of Arecibo Observatory's massive radio dish shows the heavy science platform suspended above it, two of the supporting towers and the complex cabling holding it up.


© Provided by Space
An archive image of Arecibo Observatory’s massive radio dish shows the heavy science platform suspended above it, two of the supporting towers and the complex cabling holding it up.

After two cable failures in the span of four months, Puerto Rico’s most venerable astronomy facility, the Arecibo radio telescope, has collapsed in an uncontrolled structural failure.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, decided in November to proceed with decommissioning the telescope in response to the damage, which engineers deemed too severe to stabilize without risking lives. But the NSF needed time to come up with a plan for how to safely demolish the telescope in a controlled manner.

Instead, gravity did the job this morning (Dec. 1) at about

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The Arecibo Radio Telescope’s Massive Platform Has Collapsed

After two cable failures in the span of four months, Puerto Rico’s most venerable astronomy facility, the Arecibo radio telescope, has collapsed in an uncontrolled structural failure.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, decided in November to proceed with decommissioning the telescope in response to the damage, which engineers deemed too severe to stabilize without risking lives. But the NSF needed time to come up with a plan for how to safely demolish the telescope in a controlled manner.

Instead, gravity did the job this morning (Dec. 1) at about 8 a.m. local time, according to reports from the area.

“NSF is saddened by this development,” the agency wrote in a tweet. “As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”

The NSF added that no injuries had

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