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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Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope, already damaged, collapses

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (AP) — A huge, already damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century completely collapsed on Tuesday.

The telescope’s 900-ton receiver platform and the Gregorian dome — a structure as tall as a four-story building that houses secondary reflectors — fell onto the northern portion of the vast reflector dish more than 400 feet below.

The U.S. National Science Foundation had earlier announced that it would close the radio telescope. An auxiliary cable snapped in August, causing a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter-wide) dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. Then a main cable broke in early November.

The collapse stunned many scientists who had relied on what was until recently the largest radio telescope in the world.

“It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was,” said

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Giant Puerto Rico radio telescope collapses, following damage

The Arecibo Observatory, a huge and previously damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico that played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century, completely collapsed on Tuesday.

The telescope’s 900-ton receiver platform fell onto the reflector dish more than 400 feet below.

Puerto Rican meteorologist Ada Monzón broke into tears on local TV as she delivered the devastating news to other heartbroken Puerto Ricans across the U.S. territory.

“I have to inform you, with my heart in hand, that the Arecibo Observatory collapsed,” she said in Spanish. “We made every attempt to save it.”

The U.S. National Science Foundation had earlier announced that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed. An auxiliary cable snapped in August, causing a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter-wide) reflector dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. Then a main cable broke in early November.

No injuries were reported

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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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Iconic radio telescope suffers catastrophic collapse

The Arecibo Observatory’s suspended equipment platform collapsed just before 8 a.m. local time on December 1, falling more than 450 feet and crashing through the telescope’s massive radio dish—a catastrophic ending that scientists and engineers feared was imminent after multiple cables supporting the platform unexpectedly broke in recent months. No one was hurt when the 900-ton platform lost its battle with gravity, according to staff at the observatory in Puerto Rico.



a tree in the middle of a dirt field: This aerial view shows the damage to the Arecibo Observatory after its 900-ton equipment platform broke loose, swung into a nearby rock face, and smashed onto the radio dish below.


© Photograph by Ricardo Arduengo, Getty Images

This aerial view shows the damage to the Arecibo Observatory after its 900-ton equipment platform broke loose, swung into a nearby rock face, and smashed onto the radio dish below.


The telescope itself has been destroyed, although the full extent of the damage to surrounding facilities hasn’t yet been determined. Aerial photos show that the platform likely made a pendulous swing into a nearby rock face. Parts of it, including a large

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Arecibo radio telescope’s massive instrument platform has collapsed

The immense instrument platform and the large collection of cables that supported it, all of which are now gone.

The immense instrument platform and the large collection of cables that supported it, all of which are now gone.

On Monday night, the enormous instrument platform that hung over the Arecibo radio telescope’s big dish collapsed due to the failure of the remaining cables supporting it. The risk of this sort of failure was the key motivation behind the National Science Foundation’s recent decision to shut down the observatory, as the potential for collapse made any attempt to repair the battered scope too dangerous for the people who would do the repairs.

Right now, details are sparse. The NSF has confirmed the collapse and says it will provide more information once it’s confirmed. A Twitter account from a user from Puerto Rico shared an image that shows the support towers that used to hold the cables that suspended the instrument platform over the dish, now with nothing but empty space

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The Arecibo telescope’s 900-ton platform has crashed into its disk below and destroyed the iconic radio observatory



Arecibo Observatory over a body of water: The radio-antenna platform of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, as well as three support towers, is in danger of "catastrophic" collapse and falling into the facility's 1,000-foot-wide dish. NAIC Arecibo Observatory/NSF; Business Insider


© NAIC Arecibo Observatory/NSF; Business Insider
The radio-antenna platform of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, as well as three support towers, is in danger of “catastrophic” collapse and falling into the facility’s 1,000-foot-wide dish. NAIC Arecibo Observatory/NSF; Business Insider

  • The Arecibo Observatory’s iconic radio telescope collapsed Tuesday morning.
  • The telescope’s suspended platform, which weighed 900 tons, crashed into its bowl-shaped disk below. The tops of three support towers snapped off as the platform fell.
  • Arecibo’s destruction was not unexpected: The telescope was damaged beyond repair after two cables broke in August and November.
  • Losing Arecibo deals a major blow to efforts that protect Earth from hazardous asteroids and search for signs of intelligent alien life.
  • However, pending major funding, a new state-of-the-art facility could be built in its place.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The second largest radio telescope in the world is no more.

The Arecibo

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One million new galaxies found in fastest radio survey of the sky yet

racs-small

The most rapid radio survey of the southern sky has been completed by the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope.


CSIRO

The most detailed and most rapid survey of the southern sky has helped map about a million previously undiscovered galaxies. Using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder radio telescope, scientists from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have cut the time to complete such an intense survey of space from years to less than two weeks.

In a study, published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia on Monday, the first results from the CSIRO’s Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey are reported. The agency describes the survey as like a “Google Map” of the universe, providing the most detailed atlas of the southern sky yet. 

The key to the new atlas is ASKAP, which

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Huge Puerto Rico Radio Telescope, Already Damaged, Collapses | World News

By DÁNICA COTO, Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A huge, already damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century completely collapsed on Tuesday.

The telescope’s 900-ton receiver platform fell onto the reflector dish more than 400 feet below.

The U.S. National Science Foundation had earlier announced that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed. An auxiliary cable snapped in August, causing a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter-wide) dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. Then a main cable broke in early November.

The collapse stunned many scientists who had relied on what was until recently the largest radio telescope in the world.

“It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was,” said Jonathan Friedman, who worked for 26 years as a senior research associate at the observatory and still

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