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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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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After Suffering Irreparable Damage, It’s Lights Out for the Arecibo Observatory’s Iconic Telescope | Smart News

After 57 years of gazing into the universe and helping astronomers unravel the cosmos’ mysteries, the Arecibo Observatory’s world-renowned telescope in Puerto Rico will be torn down, reports Alexandra Witze for Nature.

The observatory has three towers equipped with cables that hold up the telescope’s enormous, 1,000-foot reflector dish. In 2017, Hurricane Maria battered the already deteriorating telescope. This August, an auxiliary cable slipped out of its socket, inflicting a 100-foot-long gash in the dish. Three months later, a main cable connected to that same tower snapped, causing more devastating damage. Teams of engineers looked for remedies to help save the telescope, but repairs would be too risky for a construction team to safely undertake, reports Ashley Strickland for CNN.

Given the age of the telescope, it would need more intensive maintenance in the future since the cables were weaker than originally thought. For this reason, the National Science Foundation

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Arecibo Observatory’s Greatest Triumphs

Visual demonstration of the message, with color added to distinguish the various sections.

Visual demonstration of the message, with color added to distinguish the various sections.
Illustration: Wikimedia

A cool thing about the Arecibo Observatory is that, in addition to receiving radio signals, it can also transmit them. This capability was put to the test in 1974 when the facility beamed a transmission, known as the Arecibo message, to globular star cluster M13. This region of space is approximately 25,000 light-years away, so we’ll have to be patient about receiving a response.

Written in binary, the message was short, depicting things like DNA, the human form, and even a digital representation of the Arecibo Observatory itself. In case you’re wondering, here’s what the transmission looks like:

00000010101010000000000001010000010100000001001000100010001001011001010101010101010100100100000000000000000000000000000000000001100000000000000000001101000000000000000000011010000000000000000001010100000000000000000011111000000000000000000000000000000001100001110001100001100010000000000000110010000110100011000110000110101111101111101111101111100000000000000000000000000100000000000000000100000000000000000000000000001000000000000000001111110000000000000111110000000000000000000000011000011000011100011000100000001000000000100001101000011000111001101011111011111011111011111000000000000000000000000001000000110000000001000000000001100000000000000010000011000000000011111100000110000001111100000000001100000000000001000000001000000001000001000000110000000100000001100001100000010000000000110001000011000000000000000110011000000000000011000100001100000000011000011000000100000001000000100000000100000100000001100000000100010000000011000000001000100000000010000000100000100000001000000010000000100000000000011000000000110000000011000000000100011101011000000000001000000010000000000000010000011111000000000000100001011101001011011000000100111001001111111011100001110000011011100000000010100000111011001000000101000001111110010000001010000011000000100000110110000000000000000000000000000000000011100000100000000000000111010100010101010101001110000000001010101000000000000000010100000000000000111110000000000000000111111111000000000000111000000011100000000011000000000001100000001101000000000101100000110011000000011001100001000101000001010001000010001001000100100010000000010001010001000000000000100001000010000000000001000000000100000000000000100101000000000001111001111101001111000

You can find a full explanation of the Arecibo message here.

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NSF plans to decommission Arecibo Observatory’s 305m telescope due to safety concerns

NSF plans to decommission Arecibo Observatory's 305m telescope due to safety concerns
Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November of 2020. Credit: University of Central Florida

Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.


The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support. Furthermore, several assessments stated that any attempts at repairs could put workers in potentially life-threatening danger. Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues.

“NSF prioritizes the

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