Executives of the National Science Foundation think that the mega radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory should be retained for a while despite its unprecedented collapse. The mega radio telescope was the largest globally before the wires skirting the 900-ton observatory platform breaking at the beginning of this month. The platform collapsed into the dish below, with the trio anchoring towers supporting the cables also snapping. Nevertheless, there were neither casualties nor injuries to the people in this vicinity.
This snap comes after the NSF declaring plans to halt the usage of the 60-year-old telescope. Initially, the telescope operators had lamented the cringing of cables. Still, the agency was adamant about repairing the broken cables since it noticed the repair or maintenance work on this giant telescope would result in casualties. The agency released two videos displaying the collapse of the telescope. The Carlos Perez video shot from the observatory control room demonstrates the platform caving into the side of the dish. The Adrian Bague video shot via a drone displays the cables snapping from the towers after failing to withstand the weight of the telescope.
The head of the Astronomical Sciences at NSF, Ralph Gaume, expressed his sadness over the collapse of this asset although he was thankful that there were no casualties in the incident. The chief programmer of the Arecibo Observatory, Ashley Zauderer, stated that they had enumerated the safety zones for people to maneuver around and avoid encounters with this looming danger. She outlined that everyone paid attention to her remarks then, and that’s why they were able to avoid scores of casualties.
Gaume noted that they are organizing the debris’s clearance and retrieving the parts of the mega telescope that are still in good shape. She explained that they are evaluating the possibility of repairing it with upgraded components that are compatible with it. Nevertheless, she hinted at the possibility of factoring in environmental implications before they can proceed. Gaume emphasized that the other operations at the Arecibo Observatory will resume but within the safety settings. Additionally, the agency retorted that it would provide the funding allocated for the upcoming financial year.
Zauderer revealed that lobbyists from different groups had advocated for the revival of this telescope, including legislators and other astronomers. Currently, repairs are a no-go-zone for the telescope calling for the development of a similar module with upgrades that will increase its lifespan. To sum up, Zauderer explained that the telescope’s reconstruction would take years provided the funding trickles into the project after proper planning. NASA, which funds part of the Arecibo activities, has explained that NSF will handle this reconstruction on its own since it is their facility.