Compare pictures of the iconic Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, whose platform fell 450 feet and crashed into the disk below.
- Arecibo Laboratory’s radio telescope crashed Tuesday morning, crashing into a huge dish below its 900-ton suspended floor.
- Arecibo has been one of the best radio astronomical instruments on earth for 57 years. Its death is a blow to asteroid surveillance efforts and the hunt for alien life.
- Photos of the iconic telescope show what it looked like before and after the crash.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Arecibo Laboratory’s massive radio telescope crashed Tuesday morning. Its 900-ton platform crashed into the 1,000-foot side disk below, knocking down the tops of three support towers as it fell.
The disappearance is not entirely surprising. After the telescope is affected Two cable breaks In August and November, the National Science Foundation, which owns the telescope, determined that it was too structurally unsustainable for workers to repair safely. The Foundation downgraded the Puerto Rico telescope in late November, and engineers worked to figure out how to rebuild it. But the stage crashed before that work could progress.
“Friends, it is with deep sorrow that I inform you that the Arecibo Observatory has now collapsed,” said Deborah Marterel, a meteorologist in Puerto Rico. Tweeted in Spanish on Tuesday morning.
Prior to the crash, the telescope’s massive platform hung 450 feet above its majestic bowl-shaped disk. The disk reflected radio waves from space to instruments on the suspended platform.
But on Tuesday morning, the cables connecting the platform to the towers broke and fell down.
Jonathan Friedman, Scientologist at Arecibo Lab since 1993; Told the local news agency Noticentro The collapse sounded like the sound of an earthquake, a train or an avalanche.
A career hunting down asteroids and starring in movies
Since its completion in 1963, the Arecibo Telescope has been around Played a role Some of the most amazing discoveries of mankind about space.
It discovered the first known planet beyond our solar system, sent powerful broadcasts to intercept potential aliens, and monitored dangerous meteorites to see if they could hit Earth.
This helped scientists to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity by discovering the first binary pulsar: a highly magnetized, abbreviated star orbiting another star.
Arecibo helped researchers hunt down radio waves from potential alien technology. The other radio telescope equivalent to Arecibo’s former power is China’s Five Hundred Meter Aperture Radio Telescope (FAST).
The size and layout of the telescope brought it to life on one screen: it starred in the 1995 James Bond film “Golden Eye” and the 1997 film “Contact” starring Jodi Foster.
Scientists around the world mourn the loss of the Arecibo telescope, but it is of special importance to many in Puerto Rico, where it attracted 90,000 visitors a year. It also served as a training ground for graduate students in astronomy, physics and other fields related to space.
“When I heard this news, I was completely devastated,” said Abel Mendes, director of the Planetary Habitat Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo. Told Business Insider In November, after the telescope was removed.
Mendes has been around the lab since he was 10, and has worked with it professionally for a decade.
“It’s hard to take. It’s like losing someone important in your life,” he said. “Yes, 2020 – this is not good.”
Morgan McBall-Johnson, Aileen Woodward and Dave Mosher contributed to the reporting.
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”