A large American space telescope located deep in the Puerto Rican jungle will close after two catastrophic crashes in recent months, ending 57 years of astronomical discoveries.
In August, the Arecibo Laboratory, one of the largest in the world, ceased operations, and one of its support cables loosened from its socket, causing a 305 m wide (1,000 ft) 30 m (100 ft) hole to fall out. Reflective dish.
Earlier this month another cable broke and a new hole in the dish was torn, damaging nearby cables, prompting engineers to devise a plan to protect the defunct structure.
Accidents at the venue – famous for their connection to the James Bond film Golden Eye, as well as the couple’s Foster – prompted the US National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent government agency, to call the facility on time.
“The NSF has decided that the latest damage to the 305 m telescope cannot be resolved without endangering the lives and safety of crews and staff,” Sean Jones, assistant director of the NSF’s Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said Thursday.
“The NSF has decided to begin the planning process for a controlled layoff,” Jones said.
An NSF spokesman said engineers had not yet determined the cause of the initial cable failure.
Located in the humid forests of Arecibo, this laboratory’s wide-reflection dish and 816-ton system, which hangs 137 meters above, Puerto Rico, Used by scientists and astronomers around the world for decades to analyze distant planets, detect dangerous meteorites, and hunt for signatures of extraterrestrial life.
The telescope was instrumental in locating Pennu near Earth in 1999, laying the groundwork for sending a robotic probe to NASA, collecting and returning its first asteroid dirt sample two decades later.
An engineering firm hired by the University of Central Florida manages the laboratory for the NSF under a five-year $ 20 million contract, which said in a statement to the university last week that “if an additional core cable fails, the overall catastrophic collapse structure will soon follow.”
Citing safety concerns, the company rejected efforts to repair the lab and recommended controlled demolition.