Another cable broke the iconic Arecibo telescope, and scientists are worried

For the second time in months, a cable accident has occurred at the Arecibo Laboratory in Puerto Rico, causing further damage to one of the world’s largest and most powerful radio telescopes.

In August, astronomers and science enthusiasts were shocked to find that a massive reflection of a large hole facility had torn through the dish, resulting in a broken sub-cable falling and smashing into the structure, leaving an ugly gas 30 meters (100 feet) long. .

In the months that followed, inspectors and workers were making preparations for a complex repair work, with work scheduled to begin earlier this week. Unfortunately, the second cable failure on Friday evening local time has now further complicated the situation.

“This is definitely not what we wanted to see, but the important thing is that no one was hurt.” Says Director of Oversight Francisco Cordova.

“In our assessment, we have considered safety as a priority in planning repairs that were due to begin on Tuesday. Now it is.”

010 Arecibo1Before the crashes this year, the Arecibo Lab in 2019. (UCF)

According to the University of Central Florida (UCF), which runs the Arecibo Laboratory on behalf of the National Science Foundation, the second cable incident has some connection to the former.

Both cables are connected to the same support tower and the second break after the first failure can be triggered by additional strain.

These monitors have been monitoring all cables since the accident in August, and noted the wires breaking on the cable that broke last week, which may have been due to extra loads coming out. Unfortunately, before placing any settlement stop guards, the second cable also led, fell on the dish, causing additional damage and damaging nearby cables.

UCF is working with engineers who have been brought in to assess the situation and is accelerating the repair program with the aim of quickly reducing the tension of the remaining cables. Two new cables are already going to the lab, and the team will continue to evaluate the structure while waiting for the crews to arrive.

“Uncertainty remains until we stabilize the structure.” Cordova says. “This is our full attention. We are evaluating the situation with our experts and hope to have more to share soon.”

Making the whole repair and reinforcement project even more challenging Arecibo’s Age: The historic facility was built in the 1960s and held the title of the world’s largest single-hole radio telescope for more than half a century – from its test phase in 2016 until it was overturned by China to reach its full operational level in January. Aperture spherical telescope (fast).

During its long service, the Arecibo facility has detected dozens of astronomical milestones, distant exoplanets, asteroids, Pulsars, Radio emissions and molecules in distant galaxies.

The lab was at the forefront of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (CHET) and was also a transmitter. Arecibo News, A pioneering attempt to broadcast a galaxy radio signal in 1974.

It may have eclipsed quickly in terms of its size, but Arecibo Laboratory expects the findings to last for decades, but only if it is able to fix its serious and emerging structural problems.

“It’s not good, but we’re sure to get the facility back online,” he said. Cordova says. “This is very important for a tool for the advancement of science.”

That is certainly true, but for an aging facility that has been in operation since before mankind visited the moon, it is difficult to know for sure how serious the damage will be, and how strong or repair the structure will ultimately be, let alone short-term if other accidents occur.

We expect a positive outcome here, and emergency measures can confirm this pillar of 20th century astronomy. But even before these recent cable breaks, the repair station is still repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in 2017.

“This is not a beautiful film,” said Jonah Rankin, a radio astronomer at the University of Vermont Science. “It’s very serious.”

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